Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Undang Rembau Dato' Lela Maharaja Hj. Sulong Meah from the Gadong Clan.

DATO’ SEKUDAI 1600 -1640

The Dato’ Sekudai or Bendahara Sekudai or Batin Sekudai has become a sort of mythical figure. The rulers of Rembau claim as their ancestor through his marriage with the daughter of the aboriginal chief, Batin Seribu Jaya or Sibu Jaya. The rulers of Sungai Ujong also claim him as an ancestor and Batin Sibu Jaya as an ancestress; little discrepancies as to sex are negligible in a Malay legend. He lived at all sorts of dates. He was the traditional grandfather of the first Dato’ Rembau who ruled (according to Parr) about 1540.

His wife was a traditional contemporary of the Achehnese saint (of Pengkalan Dian) who died in the reign of Mansur Shah in 1460 (from the inscription on the tomb). One Rembau legend has it that the first Dato’ Rembau claimed the title because he was the Bendahara’s grandson. One Sungai Ujong legend has it that the Bendahara was married to in the presence of Sultan Abdul Jalil II of Johore, a ruler who reigned from 1637 – 1671.

But every Malay account agrees on the fact that this Dato’ lived in the Sakai period before the foundation of the nine Minangkabau States . He is of interest as a date, if as nothing else. The Dato’ Sekudai appears in the “Malay Annals” and is a historic as well as a legendary figure. The “Malay Annals” tell us very little about him. His son, Tun Ahmad, married Tun Puteh, daughter of Tun Anum, Bendahara of Johor. Another of his sons, Tun Kembak, married a Johor lady , Tun Chembul and had two children, Tun Puteh and Tun Pandak. The Dato’ was therefore a grandfather the time the “Malay Annals” were written.

Of him personally the “Sejarah Melayu” only says that he obtained his name because he was the first person to colonize the Sekudai; clearly, the Rembau and Sungai Ujong traditions cannot refer to an earlier Dato’ Sekudai. It only remains to fix his date by the light of what the “Malay Annals” tell us.

Undang Rembau Dato' Lela Maharaja Hj. Ipap Abdullah, from the Kota Clan.

The “Malay Annals” are dated 1612 and purport to have been written or inspired by Tun Sri Lanang, Bendahara of Johor (grandfather of the lady who married the Dato’ Sekudai’s son, Tun Ahmad). But this date cannot be accepted. Even in the preface where it occurs reference is made to the death of Sultan Alauddin in 1615, and in the body of the work mention is made of sultan Mughal of Acheen (1635), of the mission of Mudzafar Shah to Perak (1635), and of the fact Mudzafar Shah had been succeeded by his son Mansur Shah “who is reigning now.”

The’Malay Annals” cannot have been written in their present form prior to 1635. But Sultan Abdullah is referred to as the reigning Sultan, and he died about 1637. These facts give us the date of the “Malay Annals” very closely, and shows us that the Dato’ Sekudai was a man of certain age in 1636. He must have a man of high birth to have borne the title of Tun and married his sons as well, and he must have played a very important part in Negeri Sembilan to have become the legendary figure that he now is. We may say that he flourished between 1600 and 1640 – a date that disposes of the Rembau tradition that its line of rulers dates back to 1540.

The current Undang Rembau Dato' Lela Maharaja Muhammad Sharif Osman, from the Chengkau Clan.

Incidentally, too, the date disposes of the fanciful claim put forward for the Dato’ of Rembau that he is “berteromba”, that he adds to his constitutional authority the privilege of blood – of a pedigree traced on the maternal side back to the aborigines, the heirs of the soil he rules, whose rights have been merged in his.” There is no question of any Sakai Heiresses in actual history. The “Malay Annals” tell us that the Negeri Sembilan districts were appanages of the Bendahara of Johor “to this day” (1630). The Dato’ Sekudai was closely connected with the Bendahara’s family. Rembau tradition traces descent to him; the Rembau seal refers to “the grace of the Bendahara Sri Maharaja”. The idea of waris rights through Sakai ownership of the soil is a mere fiction that has been accepted all too readily by British officers stationed in Rembau. (excerpt from “Papers on Malay Subjects, edited by R.J. Wilkonson and published by direction of the Government of the Federated Malay States, Kuala lumpur, 1911.)

The fact of the story is nobody can ascertain whether the true ancestor of the present Undang of Rembau was a Malacca Bendahara (Prime Miniter) or the Jakun Chief named Dato' Batin Sekudai, residing at Kg. Lada in Chengkau. Translator Cikgu Abbas Ali, father of Teluk Kemang MP, Dato' Kamarul Baharin Abbas, mentioned that thi Datuk Sekudai was the Malacca Bendahara, while author Norhalim Hj. Ibrahim insited that this Datuk Sekudai was a Jakun chief.Let's continue to ponder on this issue until someone comes out with his or her version of the story.


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