Trac­ing the Royal Ke­lan­tanese lin­eage

A chance dis­cov­ery of a 1968 let­ter de­tail­ing the birth­day cel­e­bra­tions of Sul­tan Yahya Petra in Kota Baru piques

New Straits Times - - SUNDAY VIBES / HERITAGE - Alan Teh Leam Seng’s

THE Pos Laju van pulls up in front of my house and I’m in­stantly alerted to the sound of its tyres grind­ing in­ces­santly against the loose gravel on the drive­way. “Fi­nally!” I mut­ter while walk­ing out to meet the smart­ly­dressed de­liv­ery man who has just alighted from his ve­hi­cle with a small card­board box un­der his left arm.

Af­ter dis­pens­ing with the nec­es­sary ver­i­fi­ca­tion pro­ce­dures, I quickly head in­doors and ex­cit­edly spill the con­tents of the box on the din­ing room ta­ble. The rea­son for my ex­cite­ment is sim­ple. The Ipoh vendor who sold me the item on so­cial me­dia merely de­scribed it as a col­lec­tion of Malayan postal his­tory from the 1960s and only ap­pended a soli­tary pho­to­graph de­pict­ing a bun­dle of used en­velopes. When pressed for more im­ages, he haugh­tily gave the ex­cuse that there were bet­ter things for him to do than at­tend to such a triv­ial mat­ter.

The only thing that spurred me to com­plete the sale was his un­be­liev­ably low ask­ing price. It was only af­ter in­spect­ing the en­velopes did I fi­nally un­der­stand his re­luc­tance to pro­vide more de­tails. More than half of the cov­ers had miss­ing stamps! That im­per­fec­tion alone de­creases the value of the items by more than half. The per­ceived bar­gain pur­chase is fast turn­ing out into a dis­as­ter.

Down­cast, I start shift­ing my at­ten­tion to the let­ters in the en­velopes. Re­call­ing sto­ries heard from fel­low col­lec­tors, there have been in­stances where de­scrip­tions of im­por­tant his­tor­i­cal events have helped to dra­mat­i­cally el­e­vate the value of other­wise or­di­nary let­ters or post­cards.

The first para­graph be­gins with the sender, who merely signs off as Yong on the penul­ti­mate sev­enth page, con­grat­u­lat­ing Yus­sof on the suc­cess­ful ap­pre­hen­sion of a thief at his col­lege and at the same time ad­vo­cat­ing con­tin­ued vig­i­lance to pre­vent his­tory from re­peat­ing it­self.

My heart starts beat­ing sig­nif­i­cantly faster by the time I fin­ish read­ing the sec­ond para­graph. It tells of a joy­ous dou­ble cel­e­bra­tion in Kota Baru to com­mem­o­rate the coro­na­tion of Crown Prince Tengku Is­mail ibni Sul­tan Yahya Petra and the birth­day of Tengku Is­mail’s fa­ther, the rul­ing monarch of Ke­lan­tan at that time, Sul­tan Yahya Petra ibni al-Marhum Sul­tan Ibrahim.

The well at­tended three-day cel­e­bra­tions be­gan on the morn­ing of July 10, 1968 with the coro­na­tion of Tengku Is­mail and the awards pre­sen­ta­tion cer­e­mony at the Is­tana Balai Be­sar in Kota Baru. Con­structed to re­place the older Is­tana Kota Lama, Is­tana Balai Be­sar and the fort sur­round­ing it was built in 1844 by Sul­tan Muham­mad II us­ing tim­ber from Pasir Puteh and Ulu Ke­lan­tan. Ac­cord­ing to Yong, the monarch de­cided to call the place Kota Bharu upon com­ple­tion of his new fort. That name has re­mained ever since.

Later that evening, mem­bers of the pub­lic were treated to dance and song per­for­mances or­gan­ised by Ra­dio Malaysia Kota Bharu at the school field in Seko­lah Ke­bangsaan Padang Garong. Among the no­table artistes who took to the stage that night were M. Ibrahim, Nor­janah Ayob, Ju­naidah Jaa­far and Wan Sal­man. Yong and the other trainee teach­ers also joined in the fes­tiv­i­ties, con­tribut­ing a dance num­ber en­ti­tled Ayam Didek with the ac­com­pa­ni­ment of two singers and a pop­u­lar lo­cal band called ‘The Shean’.

Paus­ing mo­men­tar­ily to con­sult my ref­er­ence books re­gard­ing the per­for­mance venue, I dis­cover that the school was orig­i­nally known as Seko­lah Me­layu Padang Garong. Un­til to­day, it holds the en­vi­able hon­our of be­ing the first Malay school in the state af­ter it was es­tab­lished by the Ke­lan­tan State Govern­ment in 1904.

Re­turn­ing my fo­cus to the let­ter, I dis­cover that the same air of mer­ri­ment was also felt at the nearby Kota Bharu Sta­dium. Renowned ar­ti­sans from all over the state show­cased the best of Ke­lan­tanese cul­ture on 11 spe­cially con­structed plat­forms. The crowds, to­gether with of­fi­cials from the Min­istry of Youth and Sports from Kuala Lumpur, were treated to batik print­ing and weav­ing demon­stra­tions as well as wayang kulit and menora per­for­mances. CLOCK­wISE FROm TOp: The Royal Crown of Ke­lan­tan was worn for the first time by Sul­tan Is­mail dur­ing his coro­na­tion on April 28, 1921;

The Ke­lan­tan coat of arms was in­tro­duced in 1916; The sou­venir card com­mem­o­rat­ing the in­stal­la­tion in the book­let; The official in­stal­la­tion pro­gramme book­let from 1961.

The next morn­ing, a boat rac­ing com­pe­ti­tion was held at the Ke­lan­tan River. Re­sponse from the pub­lic was so over­whelm­ing that many peo­ple, in­clud­ing Yong, had to leave dis­ap­pointed. He failed to find stand­ing room near the river bank and could hardly see any­thing from the road­side.

More stage per­for­mances were in store for the Kota Bharu peo­ple on the third and penul­ti­mate night of cel­e­bra­tions. The main crowd puller was a po­lice tat­too held at the Kota Bharu sta­dium. Those who at­tended were treated to an elab­o­rate show in­volv­ing ac­ro­bat­i­cal the­atrics and mu­si­cal recitals.

The re­main­der of Yong’s let­ter de­tails the

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.