LAST_UPDATETue, 15 May 2018 11am

The New Sultan of Johor: Dawning of a New Benevolent Sultan

There have been plenty of positive happenings in the state of Johor since Tunku Ibrahim Ismail took over the throne as the state’s regent following the death of his father, the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Iskandar Ibni Almarhum Sultan Ismail, earlier this year. As part of new Sultan’s initiative to get closer to the people of Johor, the 51-year old who was previously known as Tunku Mahkota of Johor, had embarked on his annual state-bound tours with extra gusto this time around.



.This year marks a different approach to Kembara Mahkota Johor as the royal expedition he initiated in 2001 started off with him driving a train instead of the usual motorcycle convoy. The three-day train tour which enabled the Sultan to meet the people in areas along the state's railroad from Johor Baharu to Gemas and back again had ended on a high note on June 28 with hundreds of his fellow Johoreans greeting him with warm welcomes at each of the 16 stations on the 391km rail track. The train tour was followed by a motorcycle expedition where Sultan Ibrahim led a group of motorcyclists through all 10 districts of Johor.



The Kembara Mahkota Johor is a program held by Johor state government, under the direction of the Sultan. Its main objectives are to foster closer relationship between the royalties and the people of Johor as well as to provide charity for the poor. Other than that, the tour also allows the Sultan to have a closer look at the developments and to listen to problems faced by the communities as well as to promote tourism products in the state.



Scandal-ridden Past


The new Sultan’s gesture of goodwill on his Harley may just be a turn around from the less favourable deeds the Johor royalties were notorious for all these years. The infamy of Sultan Ibrahim’s late father and predecessor is no secret. The details of the late Sultan’s assault of six people in 1961 and how he was pardoned (with the help of his father) of a death sentence given by Justice Raja Azlan Shah (the present Sultan of Perak) for manslaughter in 1973 received considerable attention from mainstream media. Furthermore, the controversy surrounding how he claimed that his father had reinstated him as the heir in 1981 is even documented in Wikipedia.



.Sultan Ibrahim himself had his share of alleged criminal misconduct from the 1980s onwards which marred his reputation somewhat, albeit to a much lesser extent than his father. Back then, he was convicted of shooting dead a man in a nightclub during a feud, but was quickly pardoned. In late 1992 to early 1993, the then Tunku Ibrahim also experienced fallouts of the Gomez Incident – in which his father and younger brother, Tunku Majid were accused of two separate but related incidences of assault. The case provoked a moral outrage nationwide and ultimately resulting in constitutional amendments allowing members of the royalty to be prosecuted for criminal wrongdoings. During that period of time, the press launched a series of vociferous press reports on the history of alleged incidences of royal wrongdoings.

Sultan Ibrahim’s most recent scandal took place in March 2005 when news came out about a member of the Malaysian royalty allegedly assaulted a young woman by the name of Yasmin with whom he accused of two-timing him with another man who was from the police force. The victim's father, Mohd Yasin, later lodged a police report which claimed that the assault culprit was Sultan Ibrahim, the then Tunku Mahkota of Johor.


There was even a blog that was created to insult the late Sultan of Johor. The alleged creator of the blog known as Aduka Taruna turned himself to the police but denied being the one behind the creation of the blog.



A New Compassionate Sultan



.Kembara Mahkota Johor does seem to have a positive impact on the welfare of the state of Johor and its people. It sets the Johor royals apart from the rest of the Malaysian monarchies though, most importantly, it presents a good platform for the Sultan to get closer to his subjects in their home ground minus the frills of an extravagant occasion. Even Sultan Ibrahim himself insisted for the people where he will be visiting to do without all the fancy tents and whatnot when he arrives. The people of Johor had said that Sultan Ibrahim has quite a pleasant personality which allows him to touch the hearts of Johoreans. His caring attitude and dedication to the field to seek the life of public and try to understand their condition are most welcome by the all community especially in Johor state. 



It’s also very courteous of Sultan Ibrahim who became popularly known as ‘Sultan Berjiwa Rakyat’ (Sultan with a Common People’s Heart) to have his family members participate in his Kembara Mahkota Johor program so they would experience the lifestyles of the various communities in the state. He stressed the relevance of his family’s involvement as it can help them identify and understand the people, especially those in rural areas. “When we are close to the people, then they can ‘give’ their hearts," the Sultan once said.



The new Sultan sincerely believes that the activities of Kembara Mahkota Johor would break down the walls of separation between the Palace and the people of Johor. His determination to be part of the commoners’ daily life shows when he willingly drank sugarcane juice given by a resident from a plastic bag during one of his visits.


The success of the new Sultan’s Kembara Mahkota Johor as part of his ongoing quest to win the hearts of his subjects may well be a fresh new change Johoreans have been yearning for from the Johor royalties. Nevertheless, only time will tell whether the Johor Sultan will be keeping his pledge to rule with fairness, justice and compassion when he took the oath as the Sultan of Johor – Insya’Allah.


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