The Royal Letters of Baginda Omar (1839-1876) held by the National Archives of Malaysia (Arkib Negara Malaysia) constitutes one of the most important accessible primary sources of historical information available on the socio-political and economic development of Terengganu Darul Iman in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Inscribed as the ﬁfteenth tangible heritage object in the National Heritage Department of Malaysia’s (Jabatan Warisan Negara Malaysia) National Heritage List (Senarai Warisan Kebangsaan), these royal letters have been preserved, in various forms, by the National Archives at their headquarters in Kuala Lumpur since 1960.
With ﬁfty-ﬁve original letters and one ofﬁcial proclamation written in Malay-Jawi, the core documents in this collection consist of ofﬁcial and private correspondence from the personal archives of Baginda Omar, Sultan Terengganu IX (1806-1876) and a smaller cache of similar letters from Sultan Zainal Abidin III, Sultan Terengganu XI (1866-1918). They were bequeathed to the nation by the heirs of al-Marhum Engku Pengiran Anum (1888-1963), co-discoverer of the Batu Bersurat Terengganu. His grandfather, Shaykhul ‘Ulama’ Tok Ku Tuan Besar Paduka Indera Engku Syed Seri Perdana Engku Syed Muhammad (1795-1878), had served as Menteri Besar to Baginda Omar.
This study is the ﬁrst comprehensive attempt at rationalising the complexity of this challenging collection, by presenting its principal material in a systematic and coherent manner. This publication has been divided into two parts. Volume I provides an introduction to the collection and its main subject, with a critical transliteration and annotated translation of the original Malay-Jawi documents. Volume 2 offers a descriptive catalogue to the collection, plus a diplomatic transliteration of the Malay-Jawi letters. It is hoped that this preliminary examination of the letters will provide the basis and impetus for further studies to be made of the collection.
About the author: Raimy Ché-Ross has been teaching Malay to diplomats and armed forces personnel in Australia since 1994. He has previously held research appointments with the Malaysian Commonwealth Studies Centre (MCSC) at Trinity College, Cambridge, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Malaysia, and the National University of Singapore. He is a NAATI certiﬁed professional Malay translator and Malay consultant to the Australian media broadcaster SBS (Sydney). His publications and research papers to date include introductory studies on Hikayal Abdullah, Hikayat Hang Tuah, Hikayat Hikamat, Syair Raja Perak and Misa Melayu. Raimy divides his time between Kuala Lumpur and Canberra.