Sunday, 22 June 2014

Obituary: DYMM Paduka Seri Almarhum Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah


His majesty Sultan Azlan Shah passed away on 28 May 2014. He leaves behind a wife Tuanku Bainun bt Mohd Ali (81), a crown prince Raja Dr Nazrin Shah (58) and 3 princesses. A second prince Raja Ashman Shah had passed away in 2012 - he was with the Haqqani Foundation, a sufi group. All the princes and princesses are married and have children.


Prince Azlan Shah was born on 19 April 1928 at Kg Manggis, Batu Gajah in Perak, the youngest prince of Sultan Sir Yussuf Shah and his second wife, Hajah Khadijah bt Dato' Sri Ahmad.


Prince Azlan Shah received his early education at the Government English School in Batu Gajah before he attended the Malay College in Kuala Kangsar. Raja Azlan Shah then continued his studies overseas at the University of Nottingham (Hon DCL) and at Lincoln’s Inn in London. He obtained the Barr-at-Law in 1954.


He returned to serve in the Malayan Government Service.

1954-1955 :  Assistant State Secretary of Perak
1955-1956 :  First Class Magistrate
1957-1959 :  President of Sessions Court
1959         :  Federal Legal Counsel and DPP for Perak

1959-1961 :  Legal Advisor in Pahang
1961-1962 :  Legal Advisor in Johor
1962-1963 :  Registrar of the High Court of Malaya
1963-1965 :  Chief Registrar Federal Court
1965-1973 :  Judge High Court
1973-1978 :  Judge Federal Court

1974-1976 :  Chair Higher Education Advisory Council
1979-1982 :  Chief Justice
1982-1984 :  Lord President of the High Court

He received the Honorary Bencher from Lincoln’s Inn in 1988.

He was the Royal Patron of The Malaysian Law Society in Great Britain and Eire, and the British Graduates Association of Malaysia.


The Perak royalty is linked to the ancient Malacca Sultanate and the Siak Sultanate, both have origins in Sumatra.

Raja Azlan Shah ascended to the Perak throne via a predetermined sequential royal appointment that is unique to the Perak royal household. It consists of a series of posts, each is held by an eligible prince. A prince moves up the serial posts when the one above it becomes vacant (as in death of a prince).

A prince starts his appointment as Raja Kechil Bongsu, and then becomes Raja Kechil Tengah, Raja Kechil Sulong, and Raja Kechil Besar, before he becomes the Heir Apparent, Raja Muda.

In old B/W landscape photographs of the Perak royal household, these 5 princes appear with the ruling sultan, his wife, and palace guests.

Raja Azlan Shah first became Raja Kechil Bongsu in 1962, and finally became the Raja Muda in 1983 (21 years).

Raja Kechil Bongsu  : 19 August 1962
Raja Kechil Tengah  : 1 March 1963
Raja Kechil Sulong   : 1 January 1978
Raja Kechil Besar    :  1 August 1978
Raja Muda              :  1 July 1983


The Perak royal tradition follows the Malacca Sultanate at Johor-Riau-Lingga, whereby the incoming sultan must be announced before the burial of the deceased sultan can take place.

Raja Azlan Shah ascended to the Perak throne when his cousin passed away on 31 January 1984. Sultan Azlan Shah was proclaimed at Ipoh on 3 February 1984, and crowned at Istana Kinta in Kuala Kangsar on 9 December 1985.


Sultan Azlan Shah became Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agung (Deputy King) in 1984, before he became Yang di-Pertuan Agung (King) in 1989. Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the Prime Minister of Malaysia during this time (1983-2003).

Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agung :  9 February 1984
Installed at Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur :  29 April 1984
(5-year term : 1984-1989)

Yang di-Pertuan Agung :  2 March 1989
Crowned at Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur :  26 April 1989
(5-year term : 1989-1994)

Completed term as Agung :  25 April 1994
(Total term served at Federal level : 10 years)

After serving their term as the King and Queen of Malaysia, Sultan Azlan Shah and Tuanku Bainun returned to Perak in 1994. They continued to rule Perak as Sultan and Permaisuri.


As the King of Malaysia, Sultan Azlan Shah was in charge of the Malaysian Army (Angkatan Tentera Malaysia, ATM), Royal Malaysian Navy (Tentera Laut Diraja Malaysia, TLDM) and Royal Malaysian Air Force (Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia, TUDM).

He was the Field Marshal of the Malaysian Army (ATM), Admiral of the Royal Malaysian Navy TLDM), and Marshal of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (TUDM) (26 April 1989-25 April 1994).


As the Sultan of Perak, he was the Col-in-Chief of the Royal Malay Regiment (Regimen Askar Melayu Diraja, RAMD) (1997-2014).


As the Sultan of Perak, he was the Col-in-Chief of the Royal Regiment of Engineers (1997-2014).


Raja Azlan Shah was the Pro-Chancellor of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM 1971-1984) and was the recipient of the Honorary Doctorate of Letters & Literature (Hon DLL).

He was the Chancellor of Universiti Malaya (UM 1986) and received the Honorary Doctor of Literature (Hon D.Lit.)

In 1990, he was the recipient of 3 Honorary DCL from 3 ASEAN universities - Gajah Mada University, Brunei University, and Chulalongkorn University.

Pro-Chancellor USM  :  1971-1984 (Hon DLL)
Chancellor UM  :  1986 (Hon D.Lit.)
Gajah Mada U, Brunei U, Chulalongkorn U  :   1990 (Hon DCL)


Sultan Azlan Shah was appointed an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (Dublin), Royal College of Surgeons of England, Edinburgh, and Dublin (undated).

He was a Royal Patron of the Academy of Medicine of Malaysia (AMM).

He was a Royal Patron of the St John Ambulance Association of Perak (1984-2014).


In sports, Sultan Azlan Shah was mostly associated with hockey. He was the Vice-President of the Asian Hockey Federation (1973-1981), then President of the Malaysian Hockey Federation (1981-2004), and President of the International Hockey Federation (undated).

Vice-President of Asian Hockey Federation  :  1973-1981
President Malaysian Hockey Federation  :  1981-2004
Vice-President of International Hockey Federation  : ?

He was a Royal Patron of the Perak Veteran Hockey Association.


He was a Royal Patron of the Rotary Club, Lions Club, Royal Ipoh and Royal Perak Golf Club, Iskandar Polo Club, Ipoh and Kuala Kangsar Golf Clubs.

He was also a Royal Patron of the Malaysian Nature Society.



Bainun was born in Penang on 7 November 1932. She is a year younger than my mother Tulip bt Che Lah (born in Kuala Lumpur 4 November 1931). Tulip's father was Dr Che Lah b Md Joonos, an early Malay doctor who served as a Hajj Doctor for the Malayan hajj pilgrimages in the 1950s-1960s. Bainun was educated at the St George's School at Residency Road, near Padang Polo and the Penang General Hospital (GH Penang). She would be a junior to the late Datuk Zubaidah Ariff who also attended the same school before WWII began in Penang. Datuk Zubaidah married to Datuk Mushir Ariff, and was the daughter-in-law of Sir Dr Kamil Ariff, an early Malay doctor in Penang


Bainun then attended the Malayan Teachers’ Training College in Kirkby, Lancshire in England in the early 1950s.

Tulip and Bainun were in the same teachers' college at Kirkby and played hockey together on the same team. Tulip was the hockey captain. I don't know what position Bainun played. There is a photo of their hockey team at Kirkby. Bainun's room was across from Tulip's room. According to my late mother, news of Bainun's marriage to Raja Azlan Shah was buzzing at Kirkby well before the marriage itself. Another lady, Yasmin Hanoum bt Dr Kamil Ariff was also at Kirkby with Tulip and Bainun. Another lady at Kirkby would be Sarah bt Dr Sulaiman. Most of the surviving graduates of Kirkby meet at their Kirkby reunion in Malaysia where Tan Sri Dr Yahaya Ibrahim is chairman. Many of the Kirkby graduate teachers of the first (1951-1953) and second batch (1952-1954) have passed away. The Kirkbyites have their own website.

Tulip and Bainun were in touch till the early 1980s.


Raja Azlan Shah married Che Bainun bt Muhammad 'Ali on 9 December 1955 in Georgetown, Penang.

When Raja Azlan Shah ascended to the Perak throne, Bainun's name was styled H.R.H. Tuanku Bainun binti Muhammad ‘Ali. She was installed at Istana Kinta, Kuala Kangsar as Raja Permaisuri on 9 December 1985.

When Sultan Azlan Shah became the King of Malaysia (Agung), she was installed as Raja Permaisuri Agong on 19 February 1988 in Kuala Lumpur with her name styled Her Majesty.

The couple returned to Perak on 25 April 1994, after Sultan Azlan Shah completed his term as Agung.


The royal couple has 5 children, 2 princes and 3 princesses.

  1. H.H. Raja Datuk Sri Nazrin Shah bin Sultan ‘Azlan Shah (Raja Muda) succeeded his father as H.R.H. Maulana Paduka Sri Tuanku Sultan Nazrin Muizz ud-din Shah ibni al-Marhum Sultan ‘Azlan Muhib ud-din Shah, Sultan and Yang di-Pertuan of Perak Dar ur-Ridzwan.
  2. Y.A.M. Raja Datuk Sri Ashman Shah ibni al-Marhum Sultan ‘Azlan Muhib ud-din Shah (Raja Kechil Sulong) (deceased 30 March 2012). His father-in-law is Kamarul Ariffin bin Muhammad Yassin. His son Y.M. Raja Datuk Ahmad Nazim Azlan Shah ibni Raja Datuk Sri Ashman Shah is Raja Kechil Tengah (b. 1994). His daughters are Y.M. Raja Eminah Alliyah binti Raja Datuk Sri Ashman Shah. (b. 1992) and Y.M. Raja Bainun-nisa Safia binti Raja Datuk Sri Ashman Shah (b. 1995).
  3. Y.A.M. Raja Datuk Sri Azureen binti al-Marhum Sultan ‘Azlan Muhib ud-din Shah. 
  4. Y.A.M. Raja Datuk Sri Eleena binti al-Marhum Sultan ‘Azlan Muhib ud-din Shah. 
  5. Y.A.M. Raja Datuk Sri Yong Sofia binti al-Marhum Sultan ‘Azlan Muhib ud-din Shah.


Sultan Azlan Shah passed away at the National Heart Institute (Institut Jantung Negara, IJN) in Kuala Lumpur on 28 May 2014. He was 86 years old.


The funeral followed that of the Malacca Sultanate. The corpse was allowed a public display before the swearing in of the next sultan. Then the remains of the sultan was carried by several strong army personnel to the burial site. Sultan Azlan Shah was laid to rest after Solat Asar on 29 May 2014. Army and palace personnel and officials were involved with the burial procedures (refer to ASTRO Awani TV footage and posts & photos by royal family members/relatives in Facebook).

He is interred at Al-Ghufran Royal Cemetery adjacent to Masjid Ubudiyah at Bukit Chandan in Kuala Kangsar. His grave lies near that of his second prince, Raja Ashman Shah (refer to photos by Merah Silu in Facebook).

External links:'s marriage