His memory we cherish
By S THYAGARAJAN
The name evokes a mood of nostalgia, a myriad of moments, a multitude of memories, and above all, the magnificence of a man whose methods and manners manufactured the montage of Malaysian hockey across the globe and, of course, the melancholic thought of him not being with us.
RAJAH AZLAN SHAH gave an image and identity to the sport of hockey in Malaysia and across the globe. He symbolized the very ethos of the game as a true devotee whose passion knew no boundaries.
Any reference to the Sultan that reflects a grain of panegyric import will be inadequate, measly and a string of puerile epithets.
His vision always underscored the element of pragmatism, shorn of empty rhetoric or recrimination. In everything, he conceived a fresh idea, a new level of thinking and a novel method for accomplishing them. It contained clarity of thought, chastity of heart and the spirit of co-operation.
In every pore of his handsome physique, he breathed hockey. His love for the game cannot be quantified. This passion consumed a lot of his energy as one who played and imbibed the spirit of it more than that of an administrator.
Rajah Azlan always was enchanted by the beauty of the game, with its aesthetics and the athleticism of Asian hockey in all its pristine purity. No one was more conscious and anguished about the silken fabric being overwhelmed by the force and forthright of European approach than him.
It is now part of the folklore in the state of Perak, and in the capital city of Ipoh, how as a boy he cast aside the royal protocol and played with commoners at Batu Gajah, regarded as the nursery of hockey.
I was once amazed that he learnt to speak Tamil by mingling with a majority of those who spoke that language in Perak. He stunned me with his insight into the Tamil Nadu politics during a conversation in the press box.
Educated in the best of institutions both in Malaysia and abroad, particularly in Nottingham and in the subject of law, his erudition gave him the status of a scholar. Small wonder that he became a shining star in the legal fraternity of the country and moving up to the highest position in the judiciary.
Aptly portrayed as the “ father of Malaysian hockey,” Rajah Azlan’s role as the friend, philosopher and guide of the MHA is legendary.
He was the soul and substance behind the two World Cups in 1975 and in 2002 held at Kuala Lumpur. His reign for over two decades and more in MHA can well be described as outstanding in the area of administration of the sport.
The hockey community rightly sought his benefaction for growth in Asia. From 1997 until the death, he presided over the destiny of the Asian Hockey Federation through his sagacity, sincere appreciation of its problems and charted various courses aimed at development. One such scheme is the launch of the Asian Champions Trophy apart from the Azlan Shah Cup since 1983.
Rajah Azlan’s stature was such that the international community sought his persona to be a part of the FIH. His counselling and convincing arguments for and against, contributed immensely to deciding on a host of issues by the FIH. He served as Vice-President and as a member of the EB as the representative of the AHF.
Mere documentation of Rajah Azlan’s role in the hockey administration across the spectrum does not project the man and his mission adequately. True, he was a symbol of aristocracy but shunned all its negative trappings. He was human and humane.
The life and times of Rajah Azlan represents an era, a saga and an epoch that will remain for the scale of achievements, unmatched for generations to come.
All good things come to an end, so did the era of Rajah Azlan Shah. Life ebbed out of him on May 21, 2014, leaving a void that never, never,will be filled.
In Latin they say, ‘sic transit Gloria mundi.’