“ALLAH decreed in verse 35 of Surah Al-Anbiyaa: ‘Every soul will taste death. And We test you with evil and with good as trial; and to Us you will be returned’.
Such is the power of God’s word in determining the moment of a person’s birth and his death. When it is their time, no one will be able to postpone it. It was already written, that on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah would answer God’s call.
I am most grateful for this event held by Universiti Malaya to commemorate my late father, Sultan Azlan Shah. In my personal capacity as his son and on behalf of my mother, Tuanku Bainun, and our family, I thank Universiti Malaya for taking such care in organising this ceremony, which means so much to our family. I extend my appreciation to those here who have delivered their commemorative speeches, and who represent many constituents, including the visiting speaker from the National University of Singapore.
My late father had a long relationship with Universiti Malaya, with many nostalgic memories.
Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah at a ceremony to commemorate the late Sultan Azlan Shah at Universiti Malaya on Wednesday. He says his late father had a long relationship with the university. Bernama pic
In 1976, as a judge, Raja Azlan Shah was an external examiner for the Universiti Malaya undergraduate law degree. During the June 30, 1979 convocation, Universiti Malaya had conferred on him an honorary doctorate in literature. While delivering his acceptance speech, justice Raja Azlan Shah had touched on several key issues surrounding the basic principles underlying the formula for establishing this country named Malaysia.
The main message of his speech stressed on aspects such as the supremacy of the Constitution; the rule of law; the separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary; and the importance of a country having a free and independent judiciary; and that the courts must only know fairness, be friends with the rule of law, be close partners with the truth and be affectionate with honesty.
I quote (from his speech): ‘For Malaysia to forge a strong, dynamic and resilient society, every person within that society must unite under one flag, the Malaysian flag; under one ruler, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong; under one language, Bahasa Malaysia; under one song, the Negaraku; under one culture, a culture based on Malay culture; and under one motto: Bersekutu Bertambah Mutu (Unity improves quality).”
That speech, delivered on June 30, 1979, is an anticipation, a prescient reminder to all of this nation’s citizens. In a situation where more and more people are bringing up sensational issues that not only affect harmonious relations but also have the potential to spark ethnic and religious conflicts, that speech needs to be revisited, to be seen as a reminder and a source of reference.
Sultan Azlan Shah was appointed as Universiti Malaya’s third chancellor by the eight Yang di-Pertuan Agong; the appointment was formalised during the convocation held on Saturday morning, Aug 9 1986; the ceremony was witnessed by 51 representatives of the university, local and international institutions, while 211 universities and institutions extended their congratulations.
During his 28 years as chancellor, Sultan Azlan Shah had delivered a speech at every convocation from 1986 to 2011; due to illness, he was unable to do so in 2012 and last year. In the 26 convocation speeches he delivered, Sultan Azlan Shah consistently stressed on the need for the university to establish a holistic curriculum covering aspects of religion, intellect, noble values and integrity so that the university would be able to produce graduates who were knowledgeable, ethical, honourable, responsible and capable and who were honest and sincere at all times so that they may receive Allah’s blessing.
In his convocation speech on Aug 1, 1987, Sultan Azlan Shah had stressed on the importance of ensuring the university had autonomy in academic management, saying: ‘Historically, we have seen instances where outsiders have interfered in the academic management of a university, leading to the deterioration of academic quality, which is difficult to reverse, and which occur not just in Third World countries but even in developed nations. I urge political leaders and other public figures in society not to lead, influence or lobby a university in academic affairs.’
That decree was delivered 27 years ago. These reminders are pearls of wisdom, which must be used as guidance in ensuring the quality of university academics is not sacrificed by non-academic factors.
This commemoration ceremony is a manifestation of the appreciation and memory held by the Universiti Malaya community towards an individual who had led it for 28 years. A better way to appreciate and honour his memory would be to put into practice the words he had decreed to serve as guidance. It is hoped that every word of guidance that has been accepted into practice will also be received by Allah as part of the noble deeds, which will bring blessings upon the soul of Sultan Azlan Shah.
In the convocation held on Sept 9, 1989, with the approval of Sultan Azlan Shah, I was appointed as Universiti Malaya’s pro-chancellor. In his speech at the ceremony, Sultan Azlan Shah delivered this pantun:
Petik nanas di tepi jambatan
Putus benang ikatan baldu
Terbang undan ke tanah
Kalung emas bertatah intan
Semakin dikenang bertambah rindu
Semakin berjauhan bertambah sayang
That is how much his absence is felt, especially among the family members whose loving memories (of him) grow stronger every day. Sultan Azlan Shah has left us, answering the summon of God.
Allah decreed in Surah Al-Mu’min verse 39: ‘O my people, this worldly life is only [temporary] enjoyment, and indeed, the Hereafter — that is the home of [permanent] settlement’.
Sultan Azlan Shah lies now in purgatory (the place between death and the hereafter). May his soul be cherished by God’s love and blessings. I pray for us all to recite the Al-Fatihah, and for the rewards from this reading to fall upon the soul of Almarhum Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah Al-Maghfur-Lah. Al-Fatihah.”
This is the translated text of a speech by Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, Universiti Malaya chancellor, at a ceremony to commemorate the late Sultan Azlan Shah on Wednesday