Monday, 15 July 2013

The Alhady Family

Dr Syed Mohamed bin Alwi Alhady’s (Dr SMA Alhady) great-grandfather was Syed Ahmad ibn Hasan ibn Saqaf al-Hady [Al-Hady is also spelled as Al-Hadi or Alhady in different accounts.] al-Ba'alawi.  Masjid Ba’alawi in Singapore would have more information on him. Refer Family Tree.

Dr SMA Alhady’s grandfather was Syed Sheikh bin Syed Ahmad Hassan al-Hadi. He was popularly known as Syed Sheikh al-Hadi. His name was written as Al-Syed Sheikh Ahmad Al-Hadi in his books. His grandfather was originally from Kampung Hulu in Melaka but moved to Riau, Singapore, Johor, Melaka and finally settled in Jelutong, Penang. Syed Sheikh bin Syed Ahmad al-Hadi passed away on 20 February 1934 (6 Zulkaedah 1352 Hijrah), aged 67. He is interred at Tanah Perkuburan Masjid Jamek Jelutong in Penang. 

Dr SMA Alhady’s father, Syed Alwi al-Hadi, was the eldest son of Syed Sheikh al-Hadi. Syed Alwi al-Hadi’s hajj of 1954 and the Penang harbour scene are described in Prof. Wazir Jahan Karim’s book, Straits Muslims: Diasporas of the Northern Passage of the Straits of Malacca (2009: 80-81). Syed Alwi al-Hadi wrote in a 1955-account that more than 1,184 pilgrims were leaving on the ship M.Y. Angkeng on 14 June 1954, the third ship to leave Penang wharf, and there were possibly more than 10,000 people sending off their loved ones on the hajj at the wharf .

Dr SMA Alhady's name was styled differently as follows: SMA Alhady, Syed Mohammad Alwi Alhady, Dr Syed Mohamad Alwi bin Syed Sheikh Al-Hady, Dr Syed Alwi bin Syed Sheikh Al-Hady, Dato' Dr Syed Mohamad Alwi Alhady and Dato' Dr SMA Alhady. He was born in 1921 at his parent’s home at 431 Jelutong Road, Penang—across from Syed Sheikh’s house at 410 Jalan Jelutong. Syed Sheikh al-Hadi’s third wife Sharifah Zainah al-Mashhur had no children but helped looked after Syed Sheikh's eldest grandson, (Dr) SMA Alhady, a week after he was born. Syed Sheikh al-Hadi passed away and SMA Alhady moved to a small attap house with his grandmother. Even though SMA Alhady was from Penang, he was a Johore Government scholar—a part of his scholarship was sent home to support his grandmother in Jelutong, Penang. He enrolled into the King Edward VII College of Medicine in Singapore. His classmate was Abdul Majid bin Ismail (AM Ismail @ Coco), another poor Malay boy on Selangor State scholarship. Abdul Wahab was their senior, who was supported by two scholarships from Penang. SMA Alhady was a second year medical student while Abdul Wahab was in third year in 1942. They boarded at the FMS Medical Students’ Hostel. SMA Alhady and Coco were close friends and they studied together at the FMS Hostel. Dr Abdul Wahab’s 1987 book, Medical Students During the Japanese Invasion of Singapore, 1941-1942, gives a detailed account of their medical studies, their fates when the war broke out in Singapore, and the events leading up to the final capitulation of Singapore. Eight colleagues were killed by Japanese shelling on 14 February 1942. Singapore surrendered on 15 February 1942—its loss in the Battle of Singapore marked the start of Japanese rule on the island. In the postwar, SMA Alhady resumed medical studies at the KE VII in June 1946 and graduated with MBBS degree in 1950 [Lee 2005: 114], along with Coco—five years after the war ended. Dr SMA Alhady performed his housemanship at Penang General Hospital. Dr SMA Alhady and Dr Abdul Majid bin Ismail were awarded the 1950 Queen’s Scholarship for postgraduate work. They both went to the United Kingdom together. Dr SMA Alhady undertook postgraduate studies at St George’s Hospital in London where he learned the technique of gastrectomy from Mr Norman Tanner, a renowned gastric surgeon. Dr SMA Alhady then became a gastrosurgeon (gastric surgeon) in Gastroenterology at Penang General Hospital where he headed a Surgical Unit in 1955. He was known as ‘Mr SMA Alhady’ in his circle. He had introduced and performed gastrectomy. Dr SMA Alhady also pioneered a Tetanus Unit at Penang General Hospital. Fadzilah Abdul Ghani (Melbourne) commented that the Tetanus Unit was in a small building attached to the main hospital building. Tetanus incidence decreased with the introduction of the triple vaccine immunization of infants and children which began in 1964 in Malaysia. Immunization was continued for 10 years (1964–74). 

In 1961, Dr SMA Alhady was transferred to General Hospital Kuala Lumpur as Senior Consultant Surgeon. Dr SMA Alhady retired from government service due to ill health, and later entered into private practice in Kuala Lumpur. In 1987, Dr Abdul Wahab wrote in his famous book [Abdul Wahab 1987] that Dr SMA Alhady was in private practice. Dr SMA Alhady was bestowed the Johan Mangku Negara (JMN) federal award in 1964. Dato’ Dr SMA Alhady was first the Assistant Master (1968/69) and then Master of the Academy of Medicine Malaysia (1969–71). Dato’ Dr SMA Alhady was a Fellow of the Akademi Sains Malaysia (Academy of Sciences Malaysia, ASM) since 1995. He was nominated as a candidate from among 50 distinguished names for the retrospective Anak Gemilang Malaysia award [The Star Online, 26 June 2007]. He was an Honorary Member of MAPACS [Lim Yang Kwang 2009]. Dr SMA Alhady was President of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) in 1962. In 1975, Datuk Dr SMA Alhady officially opened the University Malaya Seventh Residential College, known as Za'ba Residential College [Za’ba was Malaysia's great nationalist Zainal Abidin bin Ahmad]. The College housed and provided meals to over 800 undergraduate students at the rate of RM10.00 per day. A pioneer, Dr SMA Alhady was present at the official opening of Maktab Latihan RIDA in Petaling Jaya by Tun Dr Ismail [Arkib Negara Malaysia caption, 2007]. Dato’ Dr SMA Alhady had taught gastrointestinal surgery to many doctors. He became an eminent gastrosurgeon, not only in Penang but in Malaysia. The Malaysian Association of Plastic, Aesthetic and Craniomaxillofacial Surgeons (MAPACS) [MAPACS (Malaysian Association of Plastic, Aesthetic and Craniomaxillofacial Surgeons).] had this to say about him:

“A well respected and experienced surgeon, his foresight and effort created a fertile milieu whereby young impressionable surgical trainees were given invaluable exposures from these regular visits. From 1962 until 1965, visiting surgeons from overseas coming from various subspecialties such as cardiothoracic surgery, vascular surgery, urology, neurosurgery and plastic surgery took turns, each visit comprising of two to three weeks operating sessions during which the surgical registrars and trainees were given the task of looking after these guests. Through these visits, the neurosurgery department was established in 1964.” [Lim Yang Kwang 2009a; 2009b; Fahmi 2009].

Like his grandfather, Dato’ Dr SMA Alhady was a modernist and a reformist [Wazir Jahan Karim 2009:174]. Dato’ Dr SMA Alhady eventually entered into business. He was reported to have entered into stock investment as Director of SEACORP in Kuala Lumpur in 1994. 

Dr Abdul Wahab wrote in his book that he and Datin Abdul Wahab (Datin Intan) had met Datuk Dr SMA Alhady and Datin Alhady at the Subang International Airport (SIA) [SIA was the international airport before Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at Sepang] in 1983. Dr SMA Alhady married Ruby, a Chinese. Dr Abdul Wahab also wrote in his book that Alhady’s family resided in Kuala Lumpur (circa 1983–87). 

In 2007, Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Haji Abdul Majid bin Ismail informed the author that Alhady’s family was based in Kuala Lumpur. In August 2008, Dr Abdul Wahab’s wife Datin Intan bt Haji Mustapha, informed the author that Alhady’s family lived in Section 5 in Petaling Jaya. On 19 August 2008, Rosman bin Tan Sri Dr Mohd Din informed the author that Dr SMA Alhady sold his Petaling Jaya home which was behind his (Rosman’s) house (circa 1988–93). 

Dr SMA Alhady’s daughter, Professor Dr Sharifah Fareeda Alhady (SF Alhady), was a cytopathologist at the University Hospital (Pusat Perubatan Universiti Malaya, PPUM) in Kuala Lumpur and the Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya. According to Professor Nor Hayati Othman, Professor Dr Sharifah Fareeda Alhady was with LAN (now MQA, Malaysian Qualifications Agency). She was the Director of the Quality Assurance Division, Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia since 2006 but had left. 

In May 2007, Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Haji Abdul Majid bin Ismail recalled that Dato’ Dr SMA Alhady’s wife, Datin Ruby had passed away first and Dato’ Dr SMA Alhady passed away later. On 19 August 2008, Rosman bin Tan Sri Dr Mohd Din informed the author that Dato’ Dr SMA Alhady, his wife and son, have passed away. 

Photo source: Alijah Gordon. The Real Cry of Syed Shaykh al-Hady.
1999: between pages 162-163.