A visit to Institute of Southeast Asia, MFA Thailand


Sharing the FaceBook posting of the President of the Malaysia Thailand Friendship Association (MTFA) Dato’ Latt Shariman Abdullah on his recent visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok.

” History was remembered at the Institute of Southeast Asia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Thailand in Bangkok where I accompanied my aunt and Kedah Royal historian Prof Tunku Dato’ Dr Sofiah Jewa to present a paper on Kedah Royal connections to the Siamese Kingdom.

I was there as Nda Sofiah’s dutiful nephew and President of the Malaysia-Thailand Association. We were guests of Ambassador Damrong KraikruanDeputy Permanent Secretary of the Thai MFA. Arrangements were splendidly done by my cousin Ambassador Krit Kraichiti, almost the emeritus Thai ambassador to Malaysia. The new Malaysian Ambassador to Thailand HE Joji and embassy senior officers came to support in full force.

The speeches and exchanges were amazing. Participants were from among Thai diplomats, royal historians, the Depsurin School where Tunku Abdul Rahman studied, the King’s College where Sultan Badlishah, Tunku Yusuf and Tunku Mohammad Jewa studied, the Vajiravudh College where my son Latt Omar and cousin Dr Latt Shahril studied and Thai family members from the Mon Gajaseni lineage.

I was moved to new insights and different paradigms, realising how intertwined the relationship of the ancient Mon Kingdom which presided over Burma and Siam, and the Malay Peninsula is, especially of Kedah and Kayang (Perlis).

We were arranged to meet cousins and important family members of the Gajaseni (Kochaseni) lineage which gave a few Prime Ministers of Thailand including granduncle Anand Panyarachun and our beloved Tok Tam, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra of Malaysia. Gajaseni is derived from two words of Pali origin Gadja which means elephants and Seni meaning knight commanders.

Phraya Jeng Gajaseni or Chao Phraya Maha Yota Narathipathi Sribhijainarong was considered by some as the last Mon king. He was the only surviving member of Binnya Dala royal family; the rest were slaughtered by the Burmese. Phraya Jeng was given protection by Rama II of Siam. Luang Nara Borirak, grandfather of Tunku Abdul Rahman was Governor of Nonthaburi and nephew of Rama IV Maha Mongkut from His Majesty’s marriage to Chao Chom Manda Klia Gajaseni. Luang Nara is son of Praya Kiat (Chu Gajaseni), the Queen’s brother. The Queen was very fond of her nephew Luang Nara, for they shared a common hobby making metal handicrafts. Plans to send Neung Nandanagara Gajaseni (Che Menjelara), Cham Nandanagara Gajaseni (Tok Chat – father of Latt Ibrahim Nandanagara, my grandfather) and Nid Nandanagara Gajaseni (another sister) to Kedah were designed in the Siamese royal courts of Rama V. Particularly between King Chulalongkorn and His Majesty’s brother and Luang Nara’s first cousin HRH Prince Nares Varariddhi. After the marriage King Chulalongkorn conferred the title
Chao Phraya Ritthisongkhram Ramaphakdi Sri Sultan Mahamadratanaratchamunin Surintharawiwongphadung Thanubamrungkehdanakhon Amonrattananakhet Prathetsaratrachaisawariyathibodi Wikromsiha, Chao Phraya Sai Buri to Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah.

Prince Nares’s son, Prince Charoonsak Kridakorn was frequently sent to Kedah to represent King Rama V and advice on the administration of the Kedah government. By marriage to Che Menjelara Naraborirak Nandanagara Gajaseni, Prince Charoonsak is also a cousin of HM Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah. Two sons of Sultan Abdul Hamid and Che Menjelara, ie Tunku Yusuf and Tunku Temenggung Mohammad Jewa, both elder brothers of former PM Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra were adopted by King Chulalongkorn and sent to the King’s College at Nonthaburi followed by HRH Sultan Badlishah until the Anglo-Siam Treaty of 1909. The treaty which unilaterally severed centuries old protection of Kedah by Siam without consultation brought great sadness to Almarhum Sultan Abdul Hamid who never recovered from what the last King of Kedah and Chao Phraya Saiburi termed as an ultimate betrayal of a most trusted and beloved patron. I can forgive the Buyer (British) but I can never forgive the Seller (Siam).

Tunku Mohammad Jewa remained close to the Siamese (later Thai) Royal Household especially to King Vajiravudh Rama VI and Rama IX. His elder brother Tunku Yusuf was not only a best friend of HM King Phrajadiphok Rama VII but was almost the King’s twin. They remarkably looked alike to the confusion of friends and teachers. Both Prince and King sadly died at their tender ages not far between each other. King Phrajadiphok was the last absolute Ruler of the Kingdom of Siam.

The Kedah Tunku Temenggung later used his close relationship in the Thai royal court to convince HM King Bhumipol Adulyadej Rama IX to help Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra’s led freedom movement (UMNO) against British colonial powers in Malaya. Rama IX Maha Bhumiphol gave generous financial aid which was kept secret for a long time at request of His Majesty. ”



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