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Tan Sri Syed Omar Bin Syed Abdullah Shahabudin
(Dato' Seri Maha Wangsa)

Translation by Haji Hashim Bin Samin


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, Kedah.

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.

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