King of the people

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah celebrates his 85th birthday as the nation's 14th monarch today. It is the second time this year the King's birthday is celebrated, after the Kedah celebration on Jan 20.

Tuanku Abdul Halim was born on Nov 28, 1927, at Istana Anak Bukit and led a colourful life among the royalty and also his subjects.

He started schooling at the Alor Merah Malay Primary School and Titi Gajah Malay School before furthering his education at the Sultan Abdul Hamid College where he remained until 1948.

Together with his younger brother Tuanku Abdul Malik, they resided at the school hostel with other students for more than two years. While in the hostel he mixed with other students from all classes of society and different ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Tuanku Abdul Halim was a member of the college's geography club, hostel prefect and also school prefect. In February 1949, soon after leaving Sultan Abdul Hamid College, Tuanku Abdul Halim left for Britain to further his studies.

He was accepted into the alma mater of his father Almarhum Sultan Badlishah ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Hamid, Wadham College, Oxford University in 1952. He spent two and a half years undergoing a Diploma and Degree course in social studies and public administration.

On Aug 6, 1949, while still studying in the United Kingdom, he was proclaimed the Raja Muda of Kedah. Upon his return to Kedah in 1955, Tuanku Abdul Halim served the state government as a cadet officer at the Kota Setar District office, and later served the state Treasury in 1957.

Tuanku Abdul Halim met his wife Almarhum Tuanku Sultanah Bahiyah in March 1956 at Istana Menanti, Negeri Sembilan, and the Sultanah was the eldest princess of the Yang di-Pertuan Negeri Sembilan Almarhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman. The royal couple have three daughters, two of whom are twins. They are Tan Sri Tunku Puteri Intan Safinaz, Datuk Seri Tunku Soraya and Tunku Sarina who passed away on Aug 31, 1991.

On March 1957, Tuanku Abdul Halim was appointed as Acting Sultan when his father went overseas from March 12 until July. He was officially installed as the 28th Sultan of Kedah at Balai Besar on July 15, 1958. He ascended the Kedah throne in July 1958 upon the demise of his father.

Tuanku Abdul Halim served as Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong between Sept 21, 1965, and Sept 20, 1970, before he was proclaimed as the fifth Yang di-Pertuan Agong and served his term of office from Sept 21, 1970, until Sept 20, 1975.

Tuanku Abdul Halim presided over the first transfer of power when his uncle, who was the first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Alhaj, resigned in favour of his deputy Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.

Tunku Abdul Rahman made the decision since he held that he should not serve under a nephew, given strict Malay royal protocol.

On Aug 26, 2003, Tuanku Sultanah Bahiyah passed away due to cancer at Istana Anak Bukit.

On Jan 9, 2004, Che Puan Haminah Hamidun, who married Tuanku Abdul Halim on Dec 25, 1975, was proclaimed the Sultanah of Kedah and given the title her royal highness Tuanku Sultanah.

Tuanku Abdul Halim was elected as deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong for a second time on Nov 2, 2006, and became the 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong on Dec 13, 2011. He is also the oldest Malay Ruler to be crowned Yang di-Pertuan Agong at 84 years and 15 days old. Following his second appointment as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, a Council of Regency was set up to discharge his duties as Sultan of Kedah while he serves his term as King.

The council consists of his brothers Tan Sri Tunku Annuar Sultan Badlishah, Tan Sri Tunku Sallehuddin Sultan Badlishah, Datuk Seri Tunku Abdul Hamid Thani Sultan Badlishah and daughter Tan Sri Tunku Puteri Intan Safinaz Sultan Abdul Halim. In 2008, Tuanku Abdul Halim celebrated his 50 years on the throne.

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