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Issues to Know About His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim of Johor, Malaysia’s seventeenth Yang di-Pertuan Agong

Issues to Know About His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim of Johor, Malaysia’s seventeenth Yang di-Pertuan Agong

Sultan Ibrahim of Johor, who was recently sworn in as the 17th Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia, is a man of modernity who has no interest in becoming a “puppet king”. Business-minded, Instagram-savvy, military-trained, and a car enthusiast to boot, he is well lauded for his forward-thinking ways, a respected symbol of stability and unity in the often-tumultuous landscape of Malaysian politics. Read on to learn more about the man who will serve as Malaysia’s reigning king for the next five years.

From the get-go, Sultan Ibrahim of Johor has made it clear that he has no interest in becoming a monarch simply for show. Ahead of his swearing in ceremony, the outspoken 65-year-old Johor monarch had told the Singapore Straits Times that he is determined ‘not to waste five years on the throne’.

His disdain for racial discrimination and corruption is made abundantly clear in his communications, both online and offline; indeed, the newly sworn-in Sultan has long served as a beacon of support and advice for current Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, whose unity government has faced attack from opposition parties seeking to oust him. In response, the monarch had released a strongly worded statement, condemning the attempts and labelling them as harmful to the nation’s stability and welfare.

The role of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong

Even though Malaysian kings hold mostly ceremonial roles in the official capacity, Sultan Ibrahim is expected to play a role in stabilising the political climate of Malaysia. His new reign follows that of outbound monarch, 64-year-old Sultan Abdullah of Pahang who served as Malaysia’s 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong and displayed steady leadership in a time of political unrest and upheaval.

Despite facing additional challenges amidst the chaos of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic fallout, Sultan Abdullah’s reign was met with the widespread approval and appreciation of Malaysians, who remember his term as one of kindness and generosity.

The end of Sultan Abdullah’s term is marked by the nation’s need for economic expansion and development. Displaying strong business acumen and a reputation for taking a no-nonsense approach to growth and advancement, the new Yang di-Pertuan Agong is, like his predecessor, a force to be reckoned with – one Malaysians are eager to welcome into the Istana Negara.

Malaysia’s kings and the nation’s unique rotating monarchy system

Malaysia’s unique system is the only such system in the world and has been in place since the nation gained independence from Britain in 1957. Under this system, the heads of the nine royal houses of Malaysia’s states take turns as King of the nation, each with a five-year term. While a new Agong’s appointment is often referred to as an ‘election’, these appointments generally follow an established rotational order. Thus, Sultan Ibrahim of Johor’s election had already been widely expected, with 67-year-old Sultan Nazrin Shah of Perak, who is next in line, re-elected as deputy monarch.

Things to know about Sultan Ibrahim of Johor, Malaysia’s 17th Yang di-Pertuan Agong

He has Malay-British roots

Sultan Ibrahim of Johor has Malay-British roots; his father, Sultan Iskandar ibni Sultan Ismail, first met his mother while studying in Britain. Upon their marriage, his mother, Josephine Ruby Trevorrow, embraced the Islamic faith and styled herself Kalsom binti Abdullah. Sultan Ibrahim is the third of four royal children resulting from the marriage.

He is the brother of Malaysia’s previous queen

Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, best known as Malaysia’s beloved former Queen, is the youngest sister of Sultan Ibrahim. The siblings’ unbreakable bond was put on public display during the 2023 election of Sultan Ibrahim as the 17th Yang di-Pertuan Agong. During the event, the former Queen was shown greeting and embracing her brother, shedding joyous tears. Ever the gentleman, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong then produced a handkerchief for his sister, showing us all that brotherly love never goes out of style.

He knows a thing or two about cars

sultan ibrahim of johor malaysia king
Sultan Ibrahim of Johor is an avid lover of automobiles, counting this Lamborghini Miura as one in his impressive collection. (Image: Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar/Facebook)

An avid lover and collector of cars, His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim of Johor has an incredible and impressive automobile collection. A love and passion shared with his son Tunku Mahkota Ismail, the Crown Prince of Johor, his collection reportedly exceeds 370 vehicles in total and includes antiques from as far back as the 19th century.

Some notable beauties in his collection are a Chevrolet Corvette C8 Z06, a Genesis G90 Limousine, a Bugatti Veyron, a custom big rig Optimus Prime-inspired Mack Super-Liner Sleeper truck, a custom Morgan Three Wheeler, and numerous motorcycles, supercars, and vintage automobiles.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s automobile collection also includes a few prized licence plates, most notably ‘WWW1’, which he won in a MYR 520,000 (Approx. HKD 845,865) bid in 2012, ‘W1N’ which he won for MYR 748,000 (Approx. HKD 1,216,744) in 2014, and ‘F1’, for which he paid a hefty MYR 836,660 (Approx. HKD 1,360,964) in 2016. The ‘F1’ licence plate would eventually be assigned to a Proton Perdana.

Last year, Sultan Ibrahim successfully won the bid on the licence plate ‘FF1’ for MYR 1.2 million (Approx. HKD 1.95 million), setting a record for the most expensive licence plate ever issued in the nation. Not to be outdone by his father, Crown Prince Tunku Mahkota Ismail’s licence plates are also personalised as simply, ‘TMJ’.

sultan ibrahim of johor malaysia king
(Images: Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar/Facebook)

Marrying his love of motorsports and his love of his people, Sultan Ibrahim founded the Kembara Mahkota Johor royal motorcycle tour in 2011. The annual charity tour is spearheaded by the monarch, who leads a convoy of high-powered motorcycles on his iconic tiger-striped bedazzled Harley-Davidson motorcycle. On these momentous occasions, the tour makes its way around Johor, allowing citizens and underprivileged communities a chance to interact with the royal.

He’s a business-savvy billionaire

It comes as no surprise that the new king, Sultan Ibrahim is one of the richest men in Malaysia, with Bloomberg estimates placing the Johor royal family at a net worth of about USD 5.7 billion. Displaying a strong business sense, the monarch is involved in several businesses including a power plant, property development, and telecommunications – he has also spoken for driving mega-infrastructure development, all of which could benefit both state and country.

In a 2015 interview with The Star, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shared that it has always been the tradition of his family to be involved in business. “I believe it is healthy for royalty to be involved in proper and legitimate businesses rather than to be in dubious businesses that harm the image of the institution,” he shared. “I want to pass this trade to my sons as they need to learn.”

In leveraging his keen business sense for investments, the beloved Sultan also engages in philanthropic efforts, delivered through the Sultan Ibrahim Johor Foundation. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the royal family donated over MYR 123 million to aid 1.6 million people and distributed test kits, healthcare items, and other essential supplies.

Beyond the pandemic, the royal family are also known to provide immediate on-ground support during crises like flash floods, storms, and fires.

Everyday hawkers have also cultivated an appreciation for their sovereign, who has displayed a keen interest in prospering the people of his home state. Speaking to The Star, Norshazlin Abdullah, who sells banana fritters with sambal kicap in Johor Bahru’s Stulang Walk recalls a time the sovereign had built them proper facilities in which to conduct their business. She shared that the Sultan, as well as other members of the Johor royal family would often stop by her store to purchase the deep-fried snacks.

He wants to attain political stability

Sultan Ibrahim attended the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in the prestigious Tufts University, where he completed courses on ‘Southeast Asian Strategic Studies’ and ‘International Law of the Sea’. Having studied diplomacy and international relations, he is a keen supporter of political stability, and has vehemently spoken out against issues pertaining to transportation projects, healthcare, education for women and children, and environmental protection.

He has also made his stance known on issues that halt the development of Malaysia, including corruption within the government and racial discrimination.

He had a military education

Like many royals, Sultan Ibrahim is a decorated military man, completing basic military training at Pusat Latihan Tentera Darat (PULADA) in Kota Tinggi where he served as Platoon Commander. Following his time in PULADA, he participated in the Young Officers Course at Fort Benning in Georgia USA and attended the American Special Forces Green Beret and Pathfinder Course in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

He undertook helicopter pilot training with the Royal Malaysian Air Force, and also trained as a Royal Malaysian Navy officer at the RMN base in Lumut, Perak. He is the Commandant of the Johor Military Forces. As of his appointment as Malaysia’s 17th Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Ibrahim is now also the Commander-in-Chief of the Malaysian Armed Forces.

He drove the last train out of Tanjong Pagar in 2011

Sultan Ibrahim’s love of automotives extends beyond that of cars and motorcycles, as evident in his iconic journey out of Singapore’s Tanjong Pagar station, to Malaysia. Under the watchful eye of Chief Locomotive Inspector Hasnol Azahari Aman, the ruler stood at the helm of the last KTM train to pull out of the Tanjong Pagar station, accompanied by some 600 passengers including members of the Johor royal family, officials, current and former KTM staff, train enthusiasts, and journalists.

He’s passionate about sports

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(Images: Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar/Facebook)

The new king harbours a deep passion for sports, including tennis, sailing, shooting, racing, and parachuting. However, his love of polo comes in at the top of his interests; he has played in tournaments in Singapore, the Philippines and Brunei, and was named the best polo player in Asia during the polo world qualifications in the 1990s. His love of polo is shared with his son, Tunku Mahkota Ismail, who himself is an award-winning polo player.

See Also

He banned vaping in Johor

The outspoken ruler made waves late in 2015 when he issued a decree, banning vaping in Johor effective January 1 2016. Citing the health of Johor state residents as his main reason for the ban, the monarch went on to add, “This is a question of health and its effects on young people. It has nothing to do with businesses and for sure, it has nothing to do with race.” As of April 2023, Johor has opted to continue enforcing its ban on the sale of vapes within the state.

(Main and featured images: Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar/Facebook)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

– Who is the richest sultan in Malaysia?

Sultan Ibrahim of Johor, who is Malaysia’s 17th Yang di-Pertuan Agong, is one of the richest men in Malaysia. Bloomberg estimates have placed the Johor royal family at a net worth of around USD 5.7 billion.

– How many wives did Johor sultan have?

His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim King of Malaysia married Raja Zarith Sofiah, who is the daughter of Perak’s Sultan Idris Shah II, on the 22nd September 1982. The couple share six children.

– Who is the richest man in Johor?

Born and bred in Johor, Malaysian business magnate, investor, and philanthropist Robert Kuok is worth an estimated USD 11.8 billion.

– Who is the new sultan of Malaysia?

There are nine sultans that sit at the heads of Malaysia’s royal families, each presiding over a state. Among these sultans, a Yang di-Pertuan Agong is elected on a rotating five-year basis to sit at the head of the nation as Malaysia’s king. The current Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Ibrahim of Johor, was sworn in on the 31st January 2024, with a coronation ceremony to be held later.

Source: Prestige Online

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