In June 1959, the British established the office of Yang di-Pertuan Negara (He Who is Made Lord) to replace the colonial governorship and represent Queen Elizabeth II in Singapore. Muhammad Suhail explores the divergent attempts to invest meaning in the Yang di-Pertuan Negara. In doing so, he weaves a rich story about the contesting ideas of sovereignty during the global age of decolonization. He Who is Made Lord
is a captivating take on Singapore’s emergence as a postcolonial nation, providing a gateway into the island’s past as part of the Malay World, the British Empire and the Commonwealth of Nations.
"The Yang di-Pertuan Negara is a subject that has received only passing mentions in the Singapore Story. This book is the first detailed study to reveal not only the politics of its creation but also the cultural significance of the office. By delving into its multifaceted meanings, this insightful account offers readers a fascinating treatise on the office’s connection with the momentous final years of British rule in the colony and Singapore’s brief interlude in Malaysia."
Associate Professor Albert Lau, Department of History, National University of Singapore
"The end of the British Empire wrought considerable change across the globe, but it also left many legacies and questions such as what or who would replace the omnipotent Crown. He Who is Made Lord examines the neglected but fascinating story of how Singapore grappled with this issue, which was more delicate, nuanced and far reaching than most supposed. Muhammad Suhail has made an original, well-researched, and valuable study of the position of Head of State in Singapore during the last stages of colonialism and shows vividly that far from being of ceremonial or administrative interest, it touched on wider and deeper issues in Singaporean and Southeast Asian history and society, reflecting tensions of identity and hopes for the future."
Dr Harshan Kumarasingham, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh
"In this ground-breaking book, Muhammad Suhail has meticulously scoured, scrutinized, and synthesized archival official records, newspaper articles, government publications, pictures, and websites to peel and expose the many layers of the hitherto overlooked office of the Yang di-Pertuan Negara of Singapore to reveal the contradictions, contestations, and constructions of the created office in the context of the tumultuous period of decolonization. Suhail also has laid bare the complex personality of the man who held this office, Yusof Ishak, exposing the myriad of faces, appearances, and roles he represented and was made to represent, appreciating his triumphs and weaknesses, but most importantly, humanizing him."
Associate Professor Sher Banu A.L. Khan, Department of Malay Studies, National University of Singapore