Tuesday, September 03, 2013

"Antara dua darjat"

The beautiful Faezah Elai did well to potray Toh Puan Rahah, the mother to the current Prime Minister, Dato Najib Tun Abdul Razak and as the pillar of strength in Tun Abdul Razak's life and family in the movie Tanda Putera.

After the family's outing to see Tanda Putera on Saturday, Faezah's Elai's beauty must have made Toh Puan Rahah the family conversation over the weekend.

It's a family tale recently revived that our late father's elder brother, Mohd Amin was besotted with Toh Puan Rahah that he wanted to seek her hand in marriage.

During our visit of a sickly aunt in Klang, our uncle told us that late Amin knew her from Toh Puan Rahah's brother.

Off course, youngest Toh Puan Rahah went on to marry a future Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak and gave birth to the present Prime Minister of Malaysia.

The sister immediately above her, Toh Puan Suhaila married Kaptan Hussein Onn, who replaced Tun Razak to be the third Prime Minister of Malaysia and later known as Tun Hussein Onn.

The third trio of "The Three Swan" was the second child, Datin Fakhriah who married the former Yang Dipertua Majlis Perbandaran Johor Baru, Dato Abdullah Ahmad.

One of her son, Nikmat Abdullah was our classmate at primary school where we used to congregate at his home in Stulang to play football. He was a former Citibank banker who undertook several corporate exercises and was the socialite that was formerly married to newscaster Betina Chua Abdullah.

Antara Dua Darjat

Back to Amin.

Mother said it was almost a case of "Antara Dua Darjat", a famous P Ramlee movie and end up tragically for Amin. The last movie Mother went to see at a cinema was P Ramlee's 1956 film, "Anak Ku Sazali" before becoming an Ustaz and later Imam's wife. 

The family story is sketchy and for all you know, it is a case of tepuk tangan sebelah or an unanswered love.

Our arwah uncle could be just "syok sendiri" to "anak perempuan Dato Haji Noh yang paling lawo" (Dato Haji Noh's most beautiful daughter), described a source related to the family of Allahyarham Tan Sri Noah Omar.

Tan Sri Noah is our Prime Minister's late grandfather (mother side) and his is seldom known in Johor by the nicname Haji Noh Beirut or Dato Haji Noh Beirut. He went to study at the Syrian Protestant College (now called the American University) of Beirut in 1914-19 in the thick of the World War 1. {Wikipedia source here

Wikipedia Internet source here claimed that Muarian Tan Sri Taib Andak, the man given the responsibility to start Felda by Tun Razak, was the person to introduce Tun Razak to Toh Puan Rahah. At the time, she was attending secondary school in Johor Baru.

Before we get to far diverted by side story again, we return back to the story of Amin.

He was a very studious kampong boy and eldest child to our grandfather school headmaster. As our late grandmother would describe, Amin would study with a small kerosene lamp till late into the night. In those days of early to bed and early to rise, staying up late till midnight is not common.

Amin managed to enter into the prestigous Maktab Perguruan Sultan Idris (MPSI) in Tanjung Malim. Maktab Melayu Kuala Kangsar was only meant for sons of royalties and noblemen.

For commoners, MPSI was it. Today, the college is known as Universiti Perguruan Sultan Idris (UPSI).

It was said that Amin was in the same batch with the late Tun Ghaffar Baba.  According to this blog source here, Ghaffar Baba studied at MPSI in 1946-49. One of aunt remarried to a retired police officer from Kuala Pilah and he was related to Ghaffar Baba. Oh brother... we are distantly related to Tamrin.

According to our uncle in Klang, together studying in the same batch at MPSI is one Abu Rais bin Mohamed Noah. In the book "Tan Sri Mohamed Noah: A Tribute" commissioned by Noah Foundation, Abu Rais is the only son and third out of five children to Tan Sri Noah. This is contrary to Wikipedia source that claimed Tan Sri Noah had 10 children.

Presumably, Amin befriended Abu Rais and on holidays may have been invited to Tan Sri Noah's home.

UMNO formation

According to two sources on Tan Sri Noah (both compliments from Dato Hishamuddin); Noah Foundation and another "Tan Sri Haji Mohamed Noah: Tokoh Dua Zaman" written by Zabha, he had returned to Muar in 1941 after serving as the Deputy District Officer for Mersing and First Class Magistrate.

It was during the early part of Japanese Occupation and upon his return to Muar, the Japanese appointed him as Magistret. Few months later he was transferred to Batu Pahat and stayed there till the end of the World War II.

MPSI was the hotbed of Malay Nationalism and Amin involved himself in political activism. It is not confirmed but some uncle said he was involved in the formation of UMO. To what extent, the details is not known.

UMO was launched in a rally on the field in front of the Kelab Melayu Batu Pahat after Friday prayers at the end of 1945.

While Amin was active in UMO, there are other family members in our kampong Mukim Bagan Batu Pahat that were involved in various political organisations like API, KMM, PKMM, etc. None joined the communist rebel and most eventually supported Dato Onn Jaafar's UMO and subsequently UMNO.

UMO was initiated by Dato Onn, the then District Officer of Batu Pahat at the time.

Right after the racial clash settled, Harold MacMicheal was sent to Kuala Lumpur to start to the formation of Malayan Union on October 11 1945.

The racial clash arised the atrocities of Bintang Tiga (MPAJA) communist on the Malays particularly. The Malays led by the famous panglima Kiyai Salleh retaliated and attack each of their areas. The communist retreated into Bandar Penggaram.

If not stopped by Dato Onn Jaafar, our kampong folks, orang Bagan had amassed 1,600 people to search and massacre the hiding Bintang Tiga.  

The Malayan Union plan was to strip the sovereign power and forcing the Malay rulers to accept Malaya to be placed under crown colony. The rulers were threatened with treason charges for cooperating with Japanese during their occupancy.

Malaya existed as sovereign Malay states but Malayan Union would dissolve all this states and legally turn Malaya into a British colony.

At an evening in November 1945, several men led by Onn Jaafar, Syed Abdul Rahman bin Ahmad, Syed Alwi Alhady and Haji Anwar bin Haji Abdul Malik congregated at Tan Sri Noah's house at Jalan Sultanah, Batu Pahat to discuss and strategise ways to oppose Malayan Union.

Haji Anwar, later Tan Sri Anwar, is the father to former Securities Commission Chairman, Tan Sri Zarinah Anwar and Sister in Islam activist and writer, Zainah Anwar and also nephew of Tan Sri Noah. When Dato Onn became Menteri Besar, he was his Private Secretary.

Wikipedia source here wrote that the idea to unite all Malay parties into one party was his.

UMO was the vehicle for the plan. 

At the first National Malay Congress at the Kelab Sultan Sulaiman in Kuala Lumpur on May 1-4 1946, at the suggestion of Pendita Zaaba, it was proposed that the word "kebangsaan" (national) inserted and UMO was changed to UMNO.

Naturally, Batu Pahat became the first UMNO Division in Malaysia. Other than being the district in Johor where UMNO was started, it is at the Dataran Batu Pahat that the first demand was made on the British in 1952 to stop pussy footing and determine the timeline for Merdeka.

It was Pak Lah's grandfather Sheikh Abdullah Fahim that later determined August 31st 1957 as the right and auspices date for Merdeka. 

And the rest is history.

Lost in Love

Returning but again to the story of Amin, he may have visited Abu Rais and his involvement with UMO  found his way to Tan Sri Noah's home at Jalan Sultanah Batu Pahat.

And, he may have continued to visit Tan Sri Noah when he moved back to Johor Baru in September 1949 to assume the position of Yang Dipertua Jabatan Agama Johor.

Between July 1947 to September 1949, Tan Sri Noah was the District Officer of Segamat. This was the position he was supposed to deputise in 1942 but refused when he got into a disagreement with then Menteri Besar Ungku Aziz and decided to return to Muar.

While Amin was at MPSI, our father was beginning life as a teacher at Maahad Arab Schol in Johor Baru. The school was on top of a hill at Wadi Hana and Tan Sri Noah's home was nearby.

Perhaps father and his brother Amin may have regularly visited Tan Sri Noah's home. Arwah Father always mentioned the name Tan Sri Noah with great respect and gratitude. He may helped father but for what, we do not know.

Uncle Amin may have become a familiar face at Tan Sri Noah's household that he may have chance on an opportunity to lay eyes on the lovely young Toh Puan Rahah across a crowded room and fell head over heal in love.

Those days it is not easy to meet girls and going on dates were impossible. Any courting or socialising was done under parental supervision and their watchful eyes.  

Amin requested his father to "masuk meminang" (seek engagement). As told by our uncles, grandfather's response was, "Kau gila ke nakkan anak Dato Haji Nor" (You must be mad for wanting to marry the daughter of Dato Haji Noh).

In the munakahat (matrimonial) practise in Islam, there is a criteria called kufu.

It is acceptable to reject a proposal for marriage for differences in kufu between man and woman. For instance, the men's proposal can be rejected if he is of lesser occupation, status, wealth, etc than the woman. It is more out of practicality than a rule.

While Amin had the confidence, his kampong school headmaster father must have felt too inferior to the thought of Tan Sri Noah as his besan. He knows his station in life.

In Batu Pahat, Tan Sri Noah is known and respected as a Magistrate, founder of UMNO, and later Yang Dipertua Jabatan Ugama Johor.

He came from a long line of aristocrasy as the son and grandson of the respected and influential Orang Kaya Muar and Orang Kaya Joned. That must be where the name for Jalan Joned in Muar came from.

His lineage goes back to the Raja Chempaka Bugis and his family carries the title Orang Kaya for administering the district of Padang in Muar. They were an influential family in the era of Maharaja Abu Bakar of Johor (1862-1895).

Young Amin's love for young Toh Puan Rahah could not be consummated.

Cross marriages

In those days in Johor, royalties and aristiocrats tend to marry among each other. If one bother to check, all the famous leaders of Johor are linked to each other by marriage. It is a method of creating an institution for political stability.

In the movie Tanda Putera, Tun Dr Ismail was Tun Razak's preferred Deputy and second man. They also have family ties.

Tun Dr Ismail also came from the same Raja Chempa Bugis Bukit Mor, Muar. Dato Haji Noh Beirut came from the Daeng Seriwa Raja (Bendahara Melaka) lineage, while Tun Dr Ismail came from the brother's, Daeng Indra Perma lineage.

Dato Onn Jaafar and Dato Haji Noh Beirut together formed UMNO and were grandfathers to Dato Hishamuddin.

The family of Dato Jaafar as taken from the book "Legacy of Honour"

Dato Onn has family linked to the royal family of Johor. His father, Dato Jaafar was the first Menteri Besar of Johor (1886-1919).

He had taken his mother, Rogayah Hanim as his forth wife.

Rogayah Hanim was two Turkish sister presented to the Maharaja Abu Bakar by the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Maharaja Abu Bakar married the elder, Khadijah Hanim and his brother, Ungku Abdul Majid married Rogayah. That marriage borne Professor Ungku Abdul Aziz. 

Before marrying Dato Jaafar, she was married a Singaporean businessman, Syed Abdullah Muhsin Alatas. That marriage borne a son Syed Ali (father to two great scholar of Malaysia, Prof Syed Hussein and Prof Syed Naguib).

Syed Abdullah divorced her before moving to Indonesia because the royal family was uncomfortable to see their off-spring moved away.

Rogayah was a one woman legacy to Johor aristocrasy.

It was during Dato Onn's tenure as Menteri Besar that the family of Tun Dr Ismail bin Abdul Rahman was expelled to Singapore and for a while led a life as fisherman. [Read the book Reluctant Politician].

To reunite the Johor aristocrasy family, Sultan Ibrahim encouraged Tun Dr Ismail's father Dato Abdul Rahman Yasin to marry the sister of Dato Onn, Kamariah after Ismail's mother, Zahara Abu Bakar died. [Read in Wikipedia here]

When Dato Onn quit UMNO, the Rahman brothers was brought in by Tunku Abdul Rahman to neutralise his politics. Family is family, politics is forever the art of possible.

Dejected Amin left his family in kampong and moved to teach in Sri Gading, Batu Pahat to nurse his broken heart. He later fell ill and died after few years of depression. Father attended to his brother.

So happen, our family has a not too distant family ties to current Member of Parliament for Sri Gading and Deputy Minister, Dato Aziz Kaprawi. We are not sure how the family link is but it is best to ask the old folks and cousins helped by Aziz. 

Most of nephews and nieces could not believe this story of Amin.

Few years ago, an aunt revealed that it was serious. Toh Puan Rahah had personally came to visit our grandfather's family in kampong under the guise as a friend of our eldest aunt but only few knew that she was the endut (sweatheart) of their eldest brother.

If one had watched P Ramlee's "Antara Dua Darjat", it is hard to believe that a daughter of an aristocratic family would be allowed to travel and move around freely.

House Speaker 


But then, Tan Sri Noah was a leader close to the people. As District Officer of Segamat, he took the effort to traverse the jungle to visit the Orang Asli.

Although he came from an aristocratic family, he was raised with traditional values and had family ties in the kampong. His mother was from a well known family and daughter of a Kadi from Kg Parit Sakai.

Upon the death of his father, Orang Kaya Omar, she remarried a religious school teacher and young Tan Sri Noah received good religious upbringing from his stepfather. He received formal religious education and went to Sekolah Arab. 

However, we have no answer as to why he took up the chairmanship of a gaming company Genting Berhad. But then the idea of building hotel resorts on a hill was his idea. He had his partner, the late Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong execute the plan.

Perhaps, the fact that Genting is known as a gaming company and not as a gambling company would be a probable answer. Whatever the wisdom behind Genting, he is best remembered for his contribution. 

Tan Sri Noah's career in politics begin after his retirement from the Johor Civil service. He won the Johor Baru Timor seat in 1959 to become a Member of Parliament and later became Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat and subsequently Speaker of the Dewan Negara.

Darjat (status) alone got nothing to do with his success. He had started working life as a clerk and worked his way up through hardwork and continuous learning to become a Magistrate.

Maybe there was no "Antara Dua Darjat" and there was no such affair. It was fated that Toh Puan Rahah married a great man that we, nephew of Amin, idolise so much for his sacrifice and contribution towards nation building.

Some of the cousins were saying, "If Wak Amin were to marry Toh Puan Rahah, he could be PM and our cousin be the present PM. Instead of Hishamuddin, it could be one of us cousin that is Minister."

In my mind, "Isy ... Jawa tak sedar diri." The social structure then would not have made it possible but it is very much possible today.

Edited: 3/9/2013 9:30 AM


Anonymous said...


Thanks Haji. Beautiful story indeed. May Allah SWT showers his blessings to those names mentioned in this posting.

Take care Tuan Haji.

penggaram said...

Bro lu tulis bejela-jela rupenye nak kasitau if god had had other plans lu yg jadi menteri bkn hishamuddin. tapi pasal "lu jawa sedor diri" we wont knwo what could have been possible, will we? whats obvious, though is that you are besotted with fauziah elai. jgn sampai hajjah mengamuk dah le tuan haji...

Anonymous said...

Nice one! Didn't know my home town Batu Pahat was so happening back then! The birth place of UMNO.. but now BP is under PR!

chinozbro said...

Salam tuan, what a fascinating yarn, as the first australians might say. and the story of your mob (family, clan, people) esp that of your arwah uncle will make for an interesting screenplay, with some creative licence, of course. not to rewrite history but for the dramatic effect (wink, wink). thankyou for sharing with us a piece of your family history. and congrats for a rather compelling attempt at story-telling!

Ismail N said...

What a journey into history! Didn't know so many of our leaders are actually related to one another! Thanks for sharing. :D

Anonymous said...

Tuan Haji

Should get Shuhaimi Baba to produce your story as another version of Antara Dua Darjat.

Anonymous said...


I think the bangsawan have lost the ability to govern and become common thieves

Anonymous said...

Anon 1.07 memang kaki mengumpat. Tak ada kerja lain yang membina.

Anonymous said...

Jalan Joned rules ok

Anonymous said...

Hidup Muo!!!

Android Kamu said...

Bagus untuk mengingatkan kita sejarah

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