Sunday, March 15, 2009

Raja adil raja disembah, raja zalim raja disanggah

Raja adil raja disembah, raja zalim raja disanggah
16 Mar, 2009

Yes, we speak out against the Sultans -- we, who defend the Monarchy from its enemies. But we speak not because we are treacherous. We speak because we love the Monarchy and wish to save it from itself.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Malay customs and culture can be very complicating indeed, even for Malays themselves. From an early and impressionable age, Malays are taught that Allah is above all else and anything else comes second to Allah. Islam, therefore, must be the guiding light for all those who profess Islam as their religion.

However, in that same breath, Malays will say they are Malays first and all else second. This is certainly contradictory. Islam propagates non-race. Malays propagate Malay Nationalism. Each is incompatible with the other. How do you reconcile Islam with nationalism when Islam is opposed to nationalism and declares such concepts as haram (forbidden)?

Probably not a single Malay would be unaware of the Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat, Tun Perak and Melaka Sultan story. While almost all would agree on the storyline, the jury is out as to who is the hero and who is the villain in that story. Some view Hang Tuah as the hero and Hang Jebat as the villain. Others would view the Sultan as the villain, Hang Jebat as the hero, and Hang Tuah as being just plain stupid. However, while the argument is focused on just three personalities, very few even talk about Tun Perak, the most crucial player in this entire scenario, and whose role made whatever happened possible.

In other words, because Tun Perak defied the Sultan’s orders, Hang Jebat died and Hang Tuah lived. If, on the other hand, Tun Perak had followed the Sultan’s orders, then Hang Tuah would have died and Hang Jebat would have assassinated the Sultan. Tun Perak was the man who changed the course of history. But his role is very seldom discussed. Those most talked about are Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat and the Sultan of Melaka.

And this is what makes the Malays most complicating animals. Why are the Malays arguing about Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat and about who should be declared the hero and who the villain? Should not the focus of the Malays be on Tun Perak? Tun Perak defied the Sultan. Is he therefore a hero for daring to do so or is he a villain for not carrying out the Sultan’s orders?

The Malays would rather not tread into this most dicey territory. If Tun Perak were to be declared a hero then Hang Jebat would also become a hero since both were of the same mind that Hang Tuah should not be killed. If, on the other hand, Tun Perak were to be declared a villain for disobeying the Sultan’s orders, then Hang Jebat would also become a villain because he too opposed the Sultan on the issue of whether Hang Jebat should be killed.

This means Tun Perak’s status in the Malay mind -- whether he was a hero or a villain -- would also affect Hang Jebat’s status. Furthermore, how can Tun Perak be a villain even though he defied the Sultan’s orders when by doing so he actually saved the Sultan’s life? So this is something the Malays would rather not discuss.

Some members of my family are most upset that I wrote that open letter to Nizar, the ousted Pakatan Rakyat Menteri Besar of Perak. ( They are of the opinion I have committed treason against the Sultan of Perak. No doubt the Sultan can’t order my execution like in the days of old. But I can certainly be hauled up on sedition charges, which is what I am already facing anyway.

My reply would be the same as Hang Jebat’s famous quotation: Raja adil Raja disembah, Raja zalim Raja disanggah. If Hang Jebat is a villain in the eyes of my family, then I suppose that too makes me a villain; so be it. But maybe even my own family does not know of my loyalty to the institution of the Monarchy, mainly because they remained silent and refused to surface more than 20 years ago during the 1980s Constitutional Crisis.

I said I am loyal to the institution of the Monarchy. This does mean I will also offer blind loyalty to the Monarchs. To the institution, yes! To the Monarchs, no! I will only be loyal to the Monarchs when they uphold the sanctity of the institution of the Monarchy and not otherwise. There is a difference.

I have been told I must offer a public apology to the Sultan of Perak as well as to the public at large for that open letter to Nizar. I’m afraid I can’t do that. And I can’t do that because I have earned, the hard way, my right to take the Monarchs to task on their errors and wrongdoings.

More than 20 years ago, the Monarchy came under attack from Umno. Most Malays; my family included; kept very silent. No one came forward to speak in defence of the Monarchy. I, however, wrote to the Selangor Palace and requested an audience.

The long and short of it all: I met the Royal Households of Selangor, Terengganu, Kedah and Perlis. I was not able to meet the Royal Household of Perak but word was sent back that although we were not able to personally meet I can take it that Perak was with us on the issue and will undoubtedly endorse the decision of the brother-Rulers.

The issue was simple. Umno was attacking the Monarchy and there was a danger Malaysia would be transformed into a Republic. Our aim was to find a solution on how to defend the Monarchy and ensure that it is not abolished, whereby all the Rulers would be forced off the throne.

I am not able to reveal details of the meetings and about what transpired. Suffice to say the Rulers agreed to the plan but they would have to leave it to us to implement. The Rulers can’t be seen as being involved in politics. It would be extremely dangerous to implicate the Rulers in any move to fight back as this may incur the wrath of Umno and doom the Monarchy for good.

Needless to say, if the plan backfires or we get caught, the Rulers will not be able to come to our aid. They would not even be able to admit that any meeting ever took place. We were entirely on our own. If it succeeds, the Rulers’ position would be secure. If it fails, we would have to take the fall, and a most heavy fall at that.

We then launched our counter-attacks. We did certain things to garner the support of the rakyat. Umno soon realised they could not get rid of the Rulers that easily and thereafter backed off and left the Rulers alone. But they had to create the impression they had won. So they introduced certain new ‘rules’ that gave an impression the Rulers have lost their immunity while leaving the Constitution intact. The recent developments in Perlis, Terengganu, Selangor and Perak prove the Rulers have lost nothing.

I made it very clear I was not doing this for the sake of the Rulers. I was doing it for the sake of the institution of the Monarchy. I did not wish to save the Rulers. I wished to save the Monarchy. And from thereon the Rulers had better learn how to behave, I added. The Rulers are their own worst enemies. It is their misconduct that allows Umno to attack them. If they behave then Umno would have nothing to use against them.

I also made it clear that any misconduct by one Ruler put all the Rulers at risk. Even if just one Ruler commits a crime, Umno would call for the blood of all the Rulers. We must, therefore, make sure that all Rulers behave themselves. And we shall attack any Ruler who misbehaves so that the entire institution of the Monarchy can be protected.

That was more than 20 years ago. The Rulers, then, were under attack. So they agreed that the Rulers should not be above criticism. And if any Ruler misbehaves then he should be taken to task. And he should be taken to task because what he does endangers not only himself but all Rulers as well.

Today, I hold the Rulers to what they agreed more than 20 years ago. 20 years ago the Rulers panicked when they thought their days were numbered. But we came forward to offer to save them. And we presented the plan and they agreed to it. And we, in turn, agreed that if anything adverse happens we would not implicate the Rulers but would instead take the fall even if it meant our deaths.

Today, I have been asked to make a public apology to the Sultan of Perak. But my family that wants me to apologise did not surface more than 20 years ago when we put our safety on the line in defence of the Monarchy.

I have earned my right to criticise the Rulers. I came to the defence of the Monarchy in its hour of need. The Rulers agreed that their position was under threat. And they agreed that we would implement certain plans to garner the support of the rakyat in our effort to ensure that the Monarchy remains intact and Malaysia will not get transformed into a Republic.

Yes, who is the villain? Was it Hang Jebat or Hang Tuah? Or maybe it was Tun Perak. Whatever it may be, the three were just acting in the service of the Sultan. But the Sultan forgets very easily. Those who serve him are condemned to death. But he who the Sultan condemns to death always resurfaces to defend him in his hour of need. And what would the villain be then? Would he still be a villain or would he be the Sultan’s saviour?

History has taught us nothing. Yes, we speak out against the Sultans -- we, who defend the Monarchy from its enemies. But we speak not because we are treacherous. We speak because we love the Monarchy and wish to save it from itself.

There are not many Monarchies left in this world. Even Australia wants to dispose of its Queen. About half the Monarchs live in Malaysia, which has ten. Should we stand by and do nothing and see the demise of the institution of the Monarchy? Or should we speak out and run the risk of treason in the interest of saving the Monarchy?

I chose to speak. I have earned that right to speak. But I do not speak the words of treason. I do not want to see the Republic of Malaysia replace the Constitutional Monarchy that we have now. But as Malaysia grows and our population exceeds 30 million in time to come, how can we stop the tide? And what if the tide turns into a Tsunami? Can a mere ten Monarchs resist the will of 30 million?

The Monarchs need to demonstrate it is the Monarchy of the rakyat -- Raja bersama rakyat. Raja adil Raja disembah, Raja zalim Raja disanggah. That was so 500 years ago. That is still so today. So let me play that most unwanted role of taking the Monarchs to task. But I do so only as a wakeup call. Yes, he who bells the cat becomes dinner for the day. But he suffers so that others can be protected. That is the fate of he who bells the cat.


Bendahara Paduka Raja Tun Perak (died 1498) was the fifth and most famous bendahara, a Malay rank similar to a prime minister, of the Sultanate of Malacca. He served under four sultans (Sultan Muzzafar Shah, Sultan Mansur Shah, Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah and Sultan Mahmud Shah) from 1456 to 1498. Early in his life, Tun Perak was a soldier-statesman for Malaccan rulers. In 1445, he led the Malaccan army to victory by defeating Siamese invaders. As a result, he was made bendahara in 1456.

Tun Perak was the son of Malacca's first bendahara, Sri Wak Raja Tun Perpatih Besar. In 1445, he was appointed as Malacca's representative in Klang. Tun Perak was then appointed bendahara in 1456 after he upset the Siamese attack against Malacca. He stopped another Siamese invasion in 1456 as well.

Tun Perak was also instrumental in colonising Pahang, Terengganu, Johor, Riau, Lingga, Bengkalis, Karimon, Rokan, Siak, Kampar, Jambi, Inderagiri and Aru. The rulers of these governments converted to Islam due to Malaccan influence.

Tun Perak was very loyal towards the Malaccan Sultanate. When his son, Tun Besar, was killed by Sultan Mahmud Shah's son, Raja Muhammad, due to a misunderstanding, he did not seek revenge against the Sultan. Instead, he requested Raja Muhammad to be crowned elsewhere. The sultan honoured Tun Perak's request. Raja Muhammad was subsequently made a sultan in Pahang.

He died in 1498 and was replaced by his younger brother Tun Perpatih Putih. – by Wikipedia


1. Ahmad Fauzi bin Mohd Basri, Mohd Fo'ad bin Sakdan and Azami bin Man, 2004. Sejarah Tingkatan 1, Kuala Lumpur, DBP.



Hang Tuah's illustrious career as an admiral or laksamana includes tales of his absolute and unfaltering loyalty to his Sultan, some of which are chronicled in Sejarah Melayu (the semi-historical Malay Annals) and Hikayat Hang Tuah (a romantic collection of tales involving Hang Tuah).

Hang Tuah became the Sultan's constant aide, accompanying him on official visits to foreign countries. On one such visit to Majapahit, Taming Sari, a famous Majapahit warrior, challenged Hang Tuah to a duel. After a brutal fight, Hang Tuah emerged the winner and the ruler of Majapahit bestowed upon him Taming Sari’s kris or weapon. The Taming Sari kris was named after its original owner, and was purported to be magical, empowering its owner with invincibility. It is said to be the source of Hang Tuah’s alleged supernatural abilities.

Hang Tuah also acted as the Sultan's ambassador, travelling on his Sultan's behalf to allied countries. Another story concerning Hang Tuah's legendary loyalty to the Sultan is found in the Hikayat Hang Tuah, and involves his visit to Inderaputa, in Pahang during one such voyage. The Sultan sent Hang Tuah to Pahang with the task of persuading the princess Tun Teja, who was already engaged, to become the Sultan's companion. Tun Teja fell under the impression that Hang Tuah had come to persuade her to marry him, not the Sultan, and agreed to elope with him to Melaka. It was only during the voyage home that Hang Tuah revealed his deception to Tun Teja.

The Hikayat Hang Tuah and Sejarah Melayu each carry different accounts of this incident. The Hikayat records that it was Hang Tuah who persuaded Tun Teja to elope with him, thus deceiving her. Sejarah Melayu, however, claims that it was another warrior, Hang Nadim, who deceived Tun Teja.

Perhaps the most famous story in which Hang Tuah is involved is his fight with his closest childhood companion, Hang Jebat. Hang Tuah's deep loyalty to and popularity with the Sultan led to rumours being circulated that Hang Tuah was having an illicit affair with one of the Sultan's concubines. The Sultan sentenced Hang Tuah to death without trial for the alleged offence. The death sentence was never carried out, however, because Hang Tuah's executioner, the Bendahara, went against the Sultan’s orders and hid Hang Tuah in a remote region of Melaka.

Believing that Hang Tuah was dead, murdered unjustly by the Sultan he served, Hang Jebat avenged his friend's death. Hang Jebat's revenge allegedly became a palace killing spree or furious rebellion against the Sultan (sources differ as to what actually occurred). It remains consistent, however, that Hang Jebat wreaked havoc onto the royal court, and the Sultan was unable to stop him, as none of the Sultan's warriors dared challenge the more ferocious and skilled Hang Jebat. The Bendahara then informed the Sultan that the only man able to stop Hang Jebat, Hang Tuah, was still alive. The Bendahara recalled Hang Tuah from his hiding place and the warrior was given full amnesty by the Sultan and instructed to kill Hang Jebat. After seven gruelling days of fighting, Hang Tuah was able to kill Hang Jebat.

It is notable that the two main sources of Hang Tuah's life differ, yet again, on the details of his life. According the Hikayat Hang Tuah, it was Hang Jebat who avenged his friend's death, only to be killed by the same friend. According to Sejarah Melayu, however, it was Hang Kasturi. The Sejarah Melayu is the more historical account, but the Hang Jebat story, as the more romantic tale, remains more popular. – by Wikipedia


Hang Jebat was the closest companion of the legendary Malay hero Hang Tuah. He is well known for his vengeful rebellion against the Malacca Sultan whom he served. After Hang Tuah was sentenced to death, Hang Jebat was conferred by the Sultan of Malacca with the Taming Sari, a sacred kris formerly used by Hang Tuah. Believing that Hang Tuah was unjustly murdered by the Sultan he served, Hang Jebat turned against the Sultan to avenge his friend's death. No one knew, however, except the Bendahara who went against the Sultans orders and hid Hang Tuah in a remote region of Malacca that he was still alive.

With the kris in his possession, Hang Jebat became invincible and there was not one person in the entire Malacca Empire who was capable of killing him. Hang Jebat's revenge had forced the Sultan of Malacca to abandon his palace. Jebat seduced the women of the palace and spent his days eating, drinking and sporting with them. All the warriors sent by the Sultan to challenge him were killed. Even his friend Hang Kasturi was driven out when Hang Jebat realised that the other man hadn't come to join him in merrymaking.

After learning from the Bendahara that Hang Tuah was still alive, The Sultan had him recall Hang Tuah and gave Hang Tuah full amnesty. The Sultan then ordered Hang Tuah to kill Hang Jebat. Being unquestioningly loyal to the Sultan, Hang Tuah obeyed the Sultans biddings and went on to challenge Hang Jebat. After fighting in a battle that lasted seven days, Hang Tuah eventually managed to reclaim the Taming Sari by tricking Hang Jebat. Although stabbed by Tuah, Hang Jebat bandaged his wounds and ran amok in the city square for three days, killing thousands of people before retreating to Tuah's house and dying in his friend's arms.

Hang Jebat's famous quote was "Raja adil raja disembah, raja zalim raja disanggah" which literally means: "A fair king is a king to obey, a cruel king is a king to fight against".

After the fight, The Sultan ordered his men to tear down, burn and throw the ashes of the house into the sea. Two months later, when a lady of the Bendahara's retinue gave birth to Jebat's son, the sultan ordered Hang Tuah to throw the baby into the sea as well. Instead, the laksamana entrusted the child, Hang Kadim, to the Bendahara. – by Wikipedia

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