Tan Sri Syed Omar bin Syed Abdullah Shahabudin was born on July
6 1902 in Alor Setar, Kedah. He had his early education in Jalan
Baru Malay School and he later went to Government English School,
which was later known as Sultan Abd. Hamid College. He later continued
his studies in Penang Free Schoo in Penang. He the went for further
studies in the University of Hong Kong.
Upon completing his studies, Tan Sri Syed Omar began his career
as State Administrative Officer in the Kedah Civil Service on July
12, 1929. Among the posts he held while in Kedah Civil Service were,
as Kulim Bandar Baharu District Officer, Kubang Pasu District Officer,
State Customs Officer and Kedah State Treasury Officer. While in
service, he had the responsibility of managing various aspects of
the administration. He retired from the Kedah Civil Service on 17
November 1954 to begin a career in politics.
Because of his leadership ability he was given the mandate to
hold many important jobs in Kedah State. He was the Kedah UMNO Liaison
Chief, Chairman of Kedah Alliance Party, Chairman of Aminah English
School and President of Kedah UMNO. In 1960, he was appointed as
the Chairman of Mahmud College Board of Governors, a post which
he held till 1967.
He was selected as an Alliance party candidate for Baling constituency
in the first Federal Election held in 1959. He was appointed as
the State's third Menteri Besar on 24 May 1959 after winning the
election. The confidence the people had in him allowed the Alliance
Party to continue to form a government after winning the General
Elections held in1964. Tan Sri Syed Omar had successfully led the
party into winning all the seats in the State Legislative Council
in that election.
Tan Sri Syed Omar was considered a successful leader during his
tenure as Menteri Besar from 1959 till 1967. This could be seen
by his effort in developing the backward rural areas through the
introduction and development of several projects. This include the
dispensing of lands to the people, providing such infrastructure
as roads, bridges, water supply, health centers, telephone service,
electricity and the continuous development in the agricultural sector,
livestock, education and others. Tan Sri Syed Omar was also responsible
for the implementation of the Muda River Irrigation Plan which costs
more than RM200 million. A few highways were also constructed, such
as the the new roads between Alor Setar and Perlis as as well as
new coastal roads. In his effort to uplift the economies of the
Malays he formed the Kedah State Development Corporation or PKNK.
Throughout his life, the Tan Sri was active in sports. He was
an especially avid fan of football, cricket and athletics. Because
of his interest, he suggested and planned for a stadium, the present
Darulaman Stadium, to be built. A few buildings and institutions
around Kedah had been named in his honour. Among them was the Dato'
Syed Omar Hall in Alor Setar, the Dato' Syed Omar Secondary School
in Alor Setar and the Dato' Syed Omar Shahabudin UMNO Hall in Baling,
Tan Sri Syed Omar Shahabudin died on December 7, 1967. For his
sterling service to the State and to the Nation, he was awarded
with such honours as the Jaksa Pendamai (Justice of the Peace),
the title of Dato' Seri Mahawangsa by His Majesty the Sultan of
Kedah in 1959, the Panglima Mangku Negara (P.M.N) by His Majesty
the Yang Dipertuan Agong of Malaysia in 1958 and the Seri Paduka
Mahkota Kedah (S.P.M.K.) by His Majesty the Sultan of Kedah in 1964.