Sunday, October 20, 2013

Undang Luak in Adat Perpatih

I am continuing my write-up about Adat Perpatih in my home state of Negeri Sembilan this time by focussing on the Undang Luak of which there are four, viz; Sungei Ujong (now Seremban), Jelebu, Rembau, and Johol.
As the saying goes;
              Alam beraja ( The state has a ruler)
              Luak berpenghulu (Undang) (the district has a territorial chief)
              Suku berlembaga ( the clan has a clan chief )
              Anak buah berbuapak ( the sub-clan has a leader )
              Orang semenda bertempat semenda (the affine has affinal relatives)
  Before the advent of the British rule, it was the Undang (lawgiver) who held power in the 'luak' or the territory, and not even the Yamtuan can intefere in the domain of the Undang. It could be surmised in the saying below:-
             Boleh menghitam dan memutihkan
             Boleh memanjang dan memendekkan
             Boleh mengesah dan membatalkan

Translated as:
            With authority to pronounce black and white
            With authority to lengthen and shorten
            With authority to confirm and annul
            Sah batal pada Undang
            Keris penyalang pada Undang
Translated as:
           Confirmation and annulment are with the Undang
           The execution Kris is with the Undang

      In fact the Undang held more authority than the Yamtuan where matters fall under the jurisdiction of the Luak. The Yamtuan was only confined to his seat of the palace in Seri Menanti. This was the scenario then, because the Yamtuan served as the titular Head of State and he was invited from Pagar Ruyung in Sumatera upon the request of the four Undangs. Thus whenever the Ruler passed away, the Undangs will choose amongst the eligible princes, not necessarily the son of the deceased to become the new ruler. Thus the present Yang diPertuan Besar (Yamtuan for short) was chosen from amongst the three princes (the other two were the sons of the previous Yamtuan, Almarhum Tuanku Jaafar ibni Almarhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman). His Highness Tuanku Mukhriz, the present ruler is the son of the former Yamtuan, Almarhum Tuanku Munawir, the brother of Almarhum Tuanku Jaafar. If I could recall correctly, when the Federation Agreement of 1947 was signed between the British and theMalay Rulers, all the four Undangs were invited and seated together with the Yamtuan during the signing ceremony. Such was the importance of the Undangs protocol wise accorded by the British and till today all royal functions at the State level must be graced by their presence.


kaykuala said...

Dear Hal
Educational round-up of a unique administrative system that works! Not many are aware of the significance of the office. It certainly cannot be equated to the territorial chieftains of other states who wield no such powers. Good write!


abdulhalimshah said...

Dear Hank,
I was told of a story whereby one day the Datuk Kelana arrived at the Mosque for friday prayer. The Yamtuan also came but was told that his presence was not required as Sungei Ujong was under the Dato' Klana's jurisdiction. Such is the state of things in Negeri Sembilan, and no one should take matters lightly, where the influence of the Undang Luak is concerned.

Al-Manar said...

I wonder if there was a time the Undangs were not unanimous on their choice.

abdulhalimshah said...

Dear Pakcik,
When the former Yamtuan, Almarhum Tuanku Munawir passed away, Tunku Mukhriz was too young to be chosen. I came to learn much later about the wranglings behind the scenes involving the federal leadership. Even if there were differences, ultimately it is the Dato' Klana being the most senior amongst them hold sway in choosing the new ruler. Being custodians of the adat, they have to find the consensus in the end.