THE passing of Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah marks the end of an era, a figure whose memory will linger deeply in those he had ruled, presided over and mingled with in the various facets of his life.
He was one who could, truly, in Rudyard Kipling's words: "... walk with kings -- nor lose the common touch."
As the fourth and youngest son of Sultan Yussuf Izzuddin Shah, Raja Azlan was distant in the line of succession to the Perak throne.
That launched him to pursue his legal education in England in 1951 at the University of Nottingham, where he qualified as a lawyer.
He was then admitted to the English Bar in 1954.
Back home, he gained wide knowledge and experience through several positions he held in state and federal administrations, and the judicial and legal services.
In 1965, at 37, he was elevated to the Bench of the High Court of Malaya and became the youngest judge to be appointed in the Commonwealth.
He was later appointed Federal Court judge, chief justice of the High Court of Malaya and the youngest-ever lord president (now chief justice) of the Federal Court of Malaysia in 1982.
A unique series of firsts, indeed.
Known as a man of intelligence, commitment, substance, decisiveness and subtle wit, Raja Azlan has written many milestone judgments that could serve as a valuable template for judges, as well as practitioners and students in the legal fraternity, especially on constitutional and administrative laws.
Through his patronage and leadership as sultan of Perak and the ninth Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Azlan placed significant emphasis on improvements and progress in education, law, health, and social and economic development, at the state and national levels.
He will also be remembered for his immense contribution to sports, especially hockey, at the national and international levels.
As we seek God's solace upon his bereaved family, Sultan Azlan will, undoubtedly, be remembered for his achievements and contributions to our nation's history.
Rueben Dudley, Petaling Jaya, Selangor New Straits Times Letters to the Editor 30 May 2014