Syed Sheh Barakbah

Tun Syed Sheh Al-Haj bin Syed Hassan Barakbah (10 November 1906 – 8 October 1975) was a prominent Malaysian judge. He was the second Lord President of the Federal Court, and the first Malaysian to hold that office. After his career in the judiciary, he briefly served as President of the Dewan Negara and later Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Governor) of Penang.

Syed Sheh Barakbah
3rd Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Penang
In office
1 February 1969  1 February 1975
Preceded bySyed Sheh Shahabudin
Succeeded bySardon Jubir
President of the Dewan Negara
In office
27 January 1969  5 February 1969
Preceded byAbdul Rahman Mohamed Yassin
Succeeded byMohamad Noah Omar
Lord President of the Federal Court
In office
Preceded byJames Beveridge Thomson
Succeeded byMohamed Azmi Mohamed
Personal details
Born(1906-11-10)10 November 1906
Alor Setar, Kedah
Died8 October 1975(1975-10-08) (aged 68)
Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia

Early life & education

Born in Alor Star, Kedah, Syed Sheh is of Hadhrami-Malay descent; his Arab ancestors had migrated from Hadhramaut and settled in Kedah for several generations.[1] Being of the Barakbah clan, he is related to Sharifah Rodziah Syed Alwi Barakbah, the third wife of the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Syed received his education at the Sultan Abdul Hamid College before continuing his studies in England sponsored by the Kedah State Government's scholarship. He was accepted to read law at the Inner Temple and graduated in 1934 with a LL.B. degree.


Syed Sheh began his career in the judiciary as a special magistrate in the Colonial Legal Service in 1946. After independence, he served as a judge on the Court of Appeal and in 1963, was appointed Chief Justice of Malaya. In 1968, Syed Sheh succeeded Tun Sir James Thomson as Lord President of the Federal Court, then the highest office in the Malaysian judiciary. He was the first Malaysian to serve in that capacity.[2]

After retiring as Lord President, Syed Sheh was appointed as a Senator in the Dewan Negara, the upper house of the Parliament of Malaysia. He became President of the Dewan Negara in 1969, serving for little over a week until early February. He retired from the Senate later that month and was appointed the third Governor of the state of Penang by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Ismail Nasiruddin. He served two terms (four years, then two years) until February 1975.

In becoming Lord President, President of the Dewan Negara and Governor of Penang, Syed Sheh has served in senior positions in the Malaysian executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.


Tun Syed Sheh died on 8 October 1975, in Alor Star, Kedah.


The Esplanade Road in George Town, Penang was renamed Jalan Tun Syed Sheikh Barakbah.


Honour of Penang

Honours of Malaysia


  1. Macam-macam Ada: Memo untuk Pak Lah (Bahagian Satu), by Hussien Alattas, published by JB News Media Network, 2006, ISBN 983-40962-8-3, pg 254
  2. Sultan Azlan Shah And The Judiciary Bernama. 29 January 2009
  3. "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan Tahun 1970" (PDF).
  4. "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan Tahun 1968" (PDF).
Preceded by
Syed Sheh Shahabudin
Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Penang
Succeeded by
Sardon Jubir
Preceded by
James Beveridge Thomson
Lord President of the Federal Court
Succeeded by
Mohamed Azmi Mohamed
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