Another Aunty laid to rest


Sharifah Saiha was admitted into hospital about a week ago. She had been suffering from cancer for some time. Last night, she suffered a heart attack and went into a coma. She died after her second heart attack.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Sharifah Saiha Binti Syed Ali (left) and Tengku Puan Nor Sa'adah al-Marhum Sultan Ala'eddin Suleiman Shah (my Grandmother)

Another Aunty of mine died last night. She passed away just after 10.00pm. This is so soon after I lost Tengku Eusnie Binti Tengku Mohd Yusof on 25 February 2009, the wife of my father’s younger brother, Raja Datuk Arshad Bin Raja Sir Tun Uda. (Read: Good-bye Auntie).

My Aunty, Sharifah Saiha Binti Syed Ali, was the widow of Raja Datuk Redzwa Bin Raja Sir Tun Uda, another of my father’s younger brothers, who died on 28 January 2004. {See: Raja Datuk Redzwa Bin Raja Sir Tun Uda (4 May 1926-28 January 2004)}

Sharifah Saiha was admitted into hospital about a week ago. She had been suffering from cancer for some time. Last night, she suffered a heart attack and went into a coma. She died after her second heart attack.

My daughter phoned to tell me about it and said that the family wanted to know if I would come back to see my Aunty before she died. That was soon after her first heart attack.

I told my daughter there would be no way I shall return to Selangor — as I had mentioned in my article: I am now persona non grata and living in exile. My daughter said the family suspected I would say that so they had suggested I sneak back late at night when no one would notice. But it is not merely about sneaking back late at night undetected. It is about my pledge not to return to my home state on point of principle.

My late Aunty would have understood. When they read out my article to her and informed her of my decision she cried. She said that the Palace, and those who sympathise with the Palace, needs to be taught a lesson and that “only Peter is capable of teaching them”.

It saddened her that I was in self-imposed exile. But she supported what I was doing and agreed with my decision. In fact, she felt that the Palace was wrong and needed to be taught a lesson.

My Aunty’s late husband, Raja Datuk Redzwa, was equally anti-establishment. He was pro-Anwar Ibrahim and despised Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for what he had done to Anwar in 1998. In 2000, my Uncle even participated in the Kesas Highway demonstration. In fact, the police had cordoned the highway and would not allow anyone in. But my Uncle stubbornly tried to get in and the police stopped his car and threatened to arrest him if he defied the police order to turn around.

But this was Raja Datuk Redzwa the police was threatening, one of the fiercest of my Uncles. He asked the police to look at the crest in front of his car and defied them to arrest him. My Uncle was a member of the Selangor Royal Council and that crest on his car was testimony of his position.

The police quickly apologised and begged him to turn back. Seeing that they were now so nice about it and were practically on their knees, my Uncle obliged them and turned around.

My Aunty, his wife, Sharifah Saiha, was in turn pro-Mahathir. We used to engage in heated debates with my Aunty on one side and my Uncle and me on the other. The children knew better than to get involved and they all remained silent observers in what could be considered a most hostile family confrontation.

In 2006, when my Aunty was told that I went to Mahathir’s house for Hari Raya, she was very pleased. She felt that in spite of my differences with Tun I should still show respect to a man who was not only much older than me but an ex-Prime Minister to boot. I told my Aunty I not only paid my respects to Tun, I even kissed his hand, as a junior to a senior should rightfully do.

When you next meet Mahathir please send him my salam, my Aunty reminded me. She was very disturbed when Tun was admitted into hospital and she asked whether it was possible to visit him. I told her that may not be possible because Mahathir was in a precarious situation and they would not want too many visitors to stress him out.

She said if she was not allowed to visit Mahathir then at least send him her salam. I contacted Marina and requested her to send my Aunty’s salam to her dad. The next time I met my Aunty she asked whether I had sent her salam to Mahathir. I confirmed that I had, through Marina. She was excited and wanted to know what Mahathir had said. According to Marina, Mahathir smiled, I told my Aunty. She was so happy.

Tonight, that Aunty left us and I was not able to see her before she died. But my Aunty will understand. She in fact agrees with my decision to turn my back on the Selangor Palace and go into exile for refusing to obey the Palace that I apologise to the Sultan of Perak for what I had said. At least, before my Aunty left us, she was able to see me reconcile with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and that made her really happy.

Rest in peace, Aunty Shef. Al Fatihah.