Starbucks, Bangsar Village, 28/jan: I’ve had very little association with our outgoing King, Sultan Abdullah of Pahang, during his tenure as the 16th YDPA since 31/Jan 2019.
I mean, I can count the number of wefies we took together at the Istana Negara or Hari Raya open houses with one hand - that’s how little connection we have had. Sometimes friends wondered why - did we have a falling out? - because the fact is the King and I have known each other for much longer than that, when he was the Tengku Mahkota. No, I told friends no such thing. I guess I can say now that it was by choice: didn’t want to be seen as trying to kiss ass. I would go to the Istana only when invited. And those times we met outside the palace, mere coincidence. But my fondness and my regards for the King grew, as he deftly handled the political crises that came his way, amid a major global health crisis at that, in a way no King has had to do so before him. And all along, he kept the people and issues affecting the people close to his heart.
Even as his reign was ending, he said: The people come first.
This Wednesday, 31/1/24, Sultan Ibrahim of Johor replaces Tuanku Abdullah as the Seventeenth YDPA. I used to be quite close to the Tuanku some years back but I expect to have even less direct association with him throughout his tenure compared with the current Agong. Sultan Ibrahim’s dad, the almarhum Sultan Iskandar, was our 8th YDPA (1984-1989) and one of the most popular with the people.
As long as the people - and only the people - come on his agenda for the next 5 years, the incoming King is destined to be a great King.