Putra of Perlis

Syed Harun Putra
3rd Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaya
Raja of Perlis
Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia
Reign 21 September 1960 – 20 September 1965
Installation 4 January 1961
Predecessor Hisamuddin Alam Shah of Selangor
Successor Ismail Nasiruddin of Terengganu
Raja of Perlis
Reign 4 December 1945 – 16 April 2000
Coronation 12 March 1949
Predecessor Syed Hamzah Jamalullail of Perlis
Successor Sirajuddin of Perlis
Born (1920-11-25)25 November 1920
Arau, Perlis, Unfederated Malay States, British Malaya
Died 16 April 2000(2000-04-16) (aged 79)
National Heart Institute of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Burial 17 April 2000
Arau, Perlis, Malaysia
Spouse Tengku Budriah binti Almarhum Tengku Ismail
Issue Sirajuddin of Perlis
Full name

Syed Harun Putra ibni Syed Hassan Jamalullail (at birth)

Tuanku Syed Harun Putra ibni Almarhum Syed Hassan Jamalullail (as the Raja of Perlis and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong)
Father Syed Hassan Jamalullail
Mother Che Puan Wan Teh binti Endut
Religion Sunni Islam

Tuanku Syed Harun Putra ibni Almarhum Syed Hassan Jamalullail, KCMG (25 November 1920 – 16 April 2000) was the third Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia of Federation of Malaya, and later of Malaysia (21 September 1960 – 20 September 1965), and sixth Raja of Perlis from (4 December 1945 – 16 April 2000).

Early career

He was the son of Syed Hassan bin Syed Mahmud Jamalullail (1897–1935), sometime Bakal Raja or heir presumptive to the throne of Perlis, by his commoner wife Wan Teh binti Wan Endut (d. 1952).[1] Born in Arau, he was educated at the Arau Malay School and later at Penang Free School between 1937 and 1939.[2] At the age of 18, he joined the Perlis administrative service, becoming a magistrate and in 1940, was transferred to Kuala Lumpur to serve as Second Magistrate in the Criminal Court.[3]

The Perlis Succession Dispute

The fourth Raja of Perlis, Syed Alwi ibni Almarhum Syed Safi Jamalullail (born 1881; reigned 1905–1943) was childless. However, he had several half-brothers who were competing for the role of heir presumptive.[4] The succession to the Perlis throne was not automatic and an heir presumptive had to be confirmed in that post by the State Council comprising the Raja and several others.[5]

Syed Putra's paternal grandfather Syed Mahmud, was the oldest son of Raja Syed Safi ibni Almarhum Syed Alwi Jamalullail (the third Raja). He was also a half brother of Raja Syed Alwi.[6] He served as Raja Muda until 1912[7] when he was convicted and jailed in Alor Star, Kedah until 1917. Two years later, he died in Alor Star.[8] On 6 December 1934, Syed Mahmud's son Syed Hassan was, by a three to one vote, selected by the State Council as Bakal Raja or heir presumptive. However, Syed Hassan died on 18 October 1935.[9]

On 30 April 1938, again by a three to one vote, the State Council chose Syed Putra (son of Syed Hassan) as the Bakal Raja. This choice was opposed by Syed Hamzah, the younger half-brother of Raja Syed Alwi and himself Vice-President of the State Council on the grounds that Syed Putra was too far removed from the throne under the Islamic inheritance laws (primogeniture did not then apply in Perlis). However, the British colonial rulers supported Syed Putra.[10]

Japanese occupation

On the outbreak of the World War II, Raja Syed Alwi retreated to Kuala Kangsar, Perak. He returned to Perlis on 28 December 1941 but was already very ill and state affairs were exercised by Syed Hamzah.[11] Syed Putra was at the time serving in the judiciary in Kuala Kumpur and had been advised by Sultan Musa Ghiatuddin Riayat Shah of Selangor to remain there. In May 1942, Syed Hamzah persuaded Raja Syed Alwi to withdraw Syed Putra's appointment as Bakal Raja and instead Syed Hamzah himself was appointed to that post. Raja Syed Alwi died in Arau on 1 February 1943 and a day later, before the funeral, Syed Hamzah was proclaimed fifth Raja of Perlis, by the consent of the Japanese Military Governor of Kedah and Perlis.[12]

Syed Putra and his family stayed in Klang until 15 May 1942 when he returned to Perlis. He lived in a hut near the Arau railway station and received a $90 a month allowance from Raja Syed Alwi but this ceased on the latter's death.[13] On 29 March 1945 he left for Kelantan, the home state of his consort Tengku Budriah, where he sold cakes and sundry goods for a living.[14]

Return of the British

The British Military Administration (BMA) under Lord Louis Mountbatten refused to recognise Syed Hamzah as Raja. On 18 September 1945, Syed Hamzah abdicated.[15][16] He went into exile in Thailand and died in Arau on 20 February 1958.[17]

On 4 December 1945 the British proclaimed Syed Putra as sixth Raja of Perlis.[18] He returned to Perlis from Kelantan, via Padang Besar. He was installed on 12 March 1949.[19]

The Malayan Union experiment

Raja Syed Putra objected to the Malayan Union treaty on the grounds that it contravened the 1930 British-Perlis Treaty giving governing power to the Raja-in-council. However, his protests that he signed under duress was rejected by the British. Subsequently, like all other Malay rulers, Raja Syed Putra repudiated the Malayan Union treaty.[20]

Election as Deputy King

Raja Syed Putra was elected Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong by the Malay rulers and served in that office from 14 April 1960 until the death of Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah on 1 September 1960.

Election as King

Raja Syed Putra was elected third Yang di-Pertuan Agong of independent Malaya and served in that office from 21 September 1960. He was installed at Istana Negara on 4 January 1961. On 16 September 1963 upon the proclamation of the Malaysian Federation comprising Malaya, British Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore, he became Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia. He completed his term of office on 20 September 1965. His son, Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin was elected as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and served from 2001 to 2006 after the death of the incumbent, Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah of Selangor.

Role as King

In September 1963, Malaysia was formed and Almarhum Tuanku Syed Putra became known as the last King of Malaya, the first King of Malaysia and the only Malay King that Singapore has ever had in modern history.

Raja Syed Putra's term of office as Yang di-Pertuan Agong was marked by the Indonesian Confrontation between newly created Malaysia and its larger neighbour, Indonesia. He offered to stay on as Yang di-Pertuan Agong at the end of his term, to see out the end of Confrontation, but this suggestion was rejected by then prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman.[21]

As Yang di-Pertuan Agong, he instructed proper treatment of the royal regalia, which he believed was partly responsible for the mysterious final illness and death of Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah, his immediate predecessor.[22]

The Stadium Negara, the Parliament House, the Muzium Negara, the Subang International Airport, the Masjid Negara and the wharves at Klang Straits represent some of the milestones of progress which marked the King's happy reign.

But there were sad times as well. Almarhum Tuanku Syed Putra was perturbed that the separation of Singapore from Malaysia had to happen on 9 August 1965, just three weeks before the Merdeka celebrations, and about one month before he left office.

Later role, death and funeral

Raja Syed Putra became the doyen of the Malay rulers, giving advice to more junior Rulers especially during the constitutional crisis with the then prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in 1983 and again in 1993. He died at the National Heart Institute, Kuala Lumpur on 16 April 2000. At that time, he was the longest reigning monarch in the world, a position he inherited from Prince Franz Joseph II of Liechtenstein in 1989. He was buried at the Royal Mausoleum in Arau, Perlis.[23]

Family life

Tuanku Syed Putra married twice:

  1. in 1941 to Tengku Budriah binti Tengku Ismail of the Patani Sultanate in Thailand. She served as his consort with the title of Raja Perempuan of Perlis and as Raja Permaisuri Agong. She is the mother of the current Raja of Perlis, Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin as well as four other sons and five daughters
  2. in 1952 to Che Puan Mariam (née Riam Pessayanavin; 1915–1986) by whom he had three sons and one daughter. She was Thai Muslim from Bangkok and Miss Siam in 1939.[24]


He has been awarded:[25]

Honours of Perlis

Malaysian Honours

Foreign Honours


Jalan Syed Putra , a stretch of the Federal Highway (route 2) between the old Kuala Lumpur railway station and Mid Valley Megamall.


  1. Finestone, Jeffrey and Shaharil Talib (1994) The Royal Families of South-East Asia Shahindera Sdn Bhd
  2. (27 December 2002) Penang Free School newsletter
  3. Willan, HC (1945) Interviews with the Malay rulers CAB101/69, CAB/HIST/B/4/7
  4. Buyong Adil (1981) Sejarah Perlis pp 34–35 DBP
  5. Tang Su Chin, Julie (2002) Sejarah Kerajaan Perlis 1841–1957 p 231 MBRAS
  6. Tang Su Chin, Julie (2002) Op Cit p 232
  7. Perlis State Council minutes (15 April 1912) CO273 1098a.386/22831
  8. Secret Memorandum Howitt to Shenton Thomas (25 March 1937) Papers of John Hamer MSS ind. Ocn. s 316 Box 1 File 1
  9. Tang Su Chin, Julie (2002) Op Cit p 232
  10. Tang Su Chin, Julie (2002) Op Cit p 262
  11. Tang Su Chin, Julie (2002) Op Cit p 266
  12. Tang Su Chin, Julie (2002) Op Cit pp 267–268
  13. Willan, HC (1945) Op Cit
  14. Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail My Personal Experience Just Before and After the Japanese Occupation of Malaya in Papers of John Hamer MSS ind. Ocn. s 316 Box 1 File 1
  15. Willan, HC (1945) Op Cit
  16. Mahani Musa, Kongsi Gelap Melayu di Negeri-Negeri Utara Pantai Barat Semenanjung Tanah Melayu, 1821 hingga 1940-an, pg 150-160
  17. Finestone, Jeffrey and Shaharil Talib (1994) Op Cit
  18. Mahani Musa, Kongsi Gelap Melayu di Negeri-Negeri Utara Pantai Barat Semenanjung Tanah Melayu, 1821 hingga 1940-an, pg 150-160
  19. Che Puan Temenggung Perlis (1995) Putra: Biografi yang diperkenankan tentang riwayat hidup DYMM Raja Perlis, Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail pp 53 and 56
  20. Tang Su Chin, Julie (2002) Op Cit pp 279–297
  21. Tunku Abdul Rahman (1977) Looking Back p 343 Pustaka Antara, Kuala Lumpur
  22. Tunku Abdul Rahman (1977) Op Cit p 342
  23. (18 April 2000) Utusan Malaysia
  24. เรียม เพศยนาวิน
  25. The Royal Ark, Perlis genealogy details - p4
  26. "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan Tahun 1958." (PDF).
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah
(Sultan of Selangor)
Yang di-Pertuan Agong
(King of Malaysia)
Succeeded by
Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah
(Sultan of Terengganu)
Preceded by
Syed Hamzah
Raja of Perlis Succeeded by
Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin
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