Assalaamu'alaikum wa rahmatullah
The exact date of the term "State Secretary" being first used in Kedah is not so clear. Some administrator figure of Kedah such as Che Muhammad 'Ariffin bin Muhammad Arshad had already being given this title and assuming this position since the 3rd of Shawwal 1323 (3rd October 1905). It is also used in official letters for state office for example in State Secretary's official letter in 17 Dzulhijjah 1323 (12 February 1906) (Malay is still written in Classical Arabic writing and our state was using Hijrah calender, not like today):
"The letter to Che Muhammad 'Ariffin Secretary to Che Awang 'Othman in Penang regarding the matter of marble purchasing which will be used at the Sultan's residence".
In the same time, Che Muhammad 'Ariffin also used to write his position as "Sultan's Secretary". This could be seen in the notes of State's Meeting Council which enlisted the attendance of the Council's members each time the meeting was conducted. He wrote his position such as: "Secretary of His Highness Sultan." In this matter, it could be seen that Mr. Muhammad 'Ariffin was the secretary of the state and the secretary of the Sultan.
In the Kedah administration hierarchy since before the World War II, the highest of the structure was our Sultan. The State's Secretary was the highest administration officer in this Malay country. Before 1921, the Kedah Civil Service was not yet in existence and the administration officers were known as Malay Civil Service. The head of the administrators were known as Kepala Pekerjaan or Ketuha Pekerjaan. Both of these terms mean Chief of the Job. Notice that they still used Proto-Malay word, which is ketuha (chief).
Referring to the Annual Report of 1937, there were about 61 servants in the Kedah Civil Service with 21 cadets. The office of the State's Secretary began in the Balai Besar or Grand Hall just like the office of State's Office Council. In 1911, it was shifted to one level building which was build with woods located in the Middle Fort Palace Complex beside today's State's Building.
Besides Secretariat, other name for the State's Secretary Office usually known by the public as Opis Dalam. It means internal office in English, hahaha. It does not mean that the office is inside the palace complex or in the palace but it refers to the function and the role of the office in handling our state's internal affairs.
In 1348 (1929), the office was again shifted to the two levels house made with bricks. It exists until now. This building is located close to the earlier office which was later being demolished. When Japanese Imperial Army invading our state/country around December 1941, the army regime administration was then introduced by Mayor General Sukigawa Seiji who assumed the position of Governor and K. Shiba as his adviser. They made the State's Secretary Office as their head quarter. So, Arabs in Kedah had also experienced being invaded by Japanese. I wonder what will happen if Japanese managed to invade Middle East jah? Maybe Middle Easterners could also learn some Bushido or Shindo or bowing to the East to Tenno Heika, LOL.
In 18th October 1943, the official ceremony to return the power on Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Terengganu by Japanese to Thai empire happened in Alor Setar which is our capital until now. Thai General Governor who was responsible in the affairs of these four Malay states/countries was Khun Rongchart while the Governor of Kedah was Khun Pramod Chongchareum. Both of them used the same office used by the Japanese as their head quarter until the end of the Thai empire administration in September 1945. Haji Muhammad Shariff 'Othman was maintained as the Kedah State's Secretary while the Thai Governor for Kedah acted as the adviser for him.
We learned a subject known as Pengajian Am (General Knowledge) when we were in Form Six which was the highest academic level for high school and it took us two years for any subject that we choose. The subject deals with our country's judicial system, administration and decision-making. Basically, we think differently from people who consider a political party is the same as government because it is different, lol. For history, I think students before my time could choose to study history such as South East Asia, Islamic Civilization and etc. I found few books of my elder sisters and I saw that they also learned about Thailand and other South East Asian countries like the Philippines and Vietnam. Quite interesting. Not many people today understand regional history in Malaysia. We were not simply a country but previously nation-states. The model of political and in Malaysia is exactly the model of colonial British. We said British this and that. But I think we actually love them, hahaha. Thank you Great Britain : )
Sealed with prayers for mercy, peace and love amin!