Man of many modes
THE annual Kembara Mahkota Johor programme has always been one that enables the rakyat to not only get up close with Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, but the entire royal family as well.
Since the first Kembara Mahkota started 15 years ago, the rakyat have always looked forward to greeting Sultan Ibrahim and his entourage. There have been many sweet memories for the Ruler and the rakyat throughout the Kembara Mahkota.
Among those is National Fishermen’s Association ( Nekmat) chairman Mohamad Dolmat, who bought an old bicycle used by Sultan Ibrahim during the Kembara Mahkota 2010.
He pointed out that the Sultan used the old bicycle to travel from Layang- Layang train station.
Mohamad said after Sultan Ibrahim arrived, the bicycle was put up for auction, where he immediately went to the front line hoping to get lucky.
“Sultan Ibrahim drove the train in the Kembara where he was travelling to Gemas and subsequently, he obtained a locomotive driving licence.
“The Ruler was successful in his attempt and getting a memento from Sultan Ibrahim in the historic Kembara would be great for me and the association as well,” he said.
Mohamad said he forked out RM5,000 to get his hands on the bicycle but it was money well spent. He also said that after buying the bicycle, he placed it at the association’s headquarters in Layang Layang and it had attracted many visitors.
“People were curious and kept asking me why a fishermen association has a bicycle in its headquarters, but when I told them the story behind it, they were pleased.
“There were many offers from people who wanted to buy this bicycle. Some even wanted to triple the price that I paid for. But this is a special gift and I will not part with it no matter the amount offered,” he said.
Trader K. Selvaraj, 49, too had fond memories of Sultan Ibrahim when he watched a football match during the Kembara Mahkota in Segamat.
“I went to the Segamat train station as it always aired live telecasts of football matches on big screens. This time around, there was a huge crowd.
“I thought that was predictable as they were telecasting a match of England versus Germany. But to my surprise, among the people watching the game were Sultan Ibrahim and his children,” he said.
Selvaraj added that the Sultan invited all those around him to come closer to watch the game with him and even paid for the drinks.
“Sultan made a joke before the game started that Germany will win the match and told English fans not to have high hopes while his sons picked England.
“His prediction came true as Germany went on to win the game. After the match, the Ruler reminded us to be careful going home, especially those riding motorcycles,” he said.
The father of three added that he would cherish the moment forever as not many would get the chance to watch a football game together with a highly respected Ruler.
Technician Ang Soon Kiat, 29, said that he was taken aback when he met Sultan Ibrahim at a coffee shop near the Kluang station several years ago. He went to the station to take a train to Singapore as he was working in the republic.
“I bought my ticket and went to a nearby coffee shop to have breakfast. That’s when I saw a lot of people, and there were policemen.
“I thought something bad could have happened, but I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Sultan Ibrahim right in front of me,” he said.
Ang said he took a packet of nasi lemak and ordered coffee but there were no seats left in the shop.
“Sultan Ibrahim ordered his bodyguards to tell one of his entourage members to give up his seat for me.
“I was seated not far from Sultan Ibrahim’s table and when I thanked him, the Sultan gave me a smile,” he said, adding that the Ruler also paid for the breakfast.
The idea behind Kembara came to Sultan Ibrahim when he went across the Causeway and visited Singapore back in 2001 where he saw many people in ordinary clothes and living in their natural environment.
The Ruler wanted to know his rakyat’s living condition as previously, the Sultan would usually host his visits at reception halls where guests would be in formal attire. Thus, the Kembara Mahkota Johor was born.
Sultan Ibrahim had used all sorts of transportation since the first Kembara Mahkota started in 2001, from motorcycles, train, four- wheel drive to boats and even a bus.
This does not come as a surprise, as the Sultan loves various modes of transportations, as he owned hundreds of motorcycles, cars and even a Boeing aircraft.
Sultan Ibrahim has a wide collection of cars from American muscle cars, to super cars such as Ferrari, Pagani Zonda to classic Mercedes Benz, Range Rovers, and custom- made Bentleys.
Sultan Ibrahim also has an interest in locally produced cars as he had bought a Proton Satria Neo, which he fitted with the registration plate number WWW 1 back in 2012.
He placed all his vehicles in a big garage fitted with air conditioning and has his own team of mechanics but Sultan Ibrahim, who is known to give attention to details, would personally inspect and drive his own cars to make sure they are in good condition.
In 2010, he donated 19 vehicles to the Royal Malaysian Police Force worth a total of RM5.5mil. The vehicles comprising nine Australian- made Holden Commodore cars, two Proton Perdanas and eight Harley Davidson 1700cc motorcycles, which have been used as escort vehicles for the Johor Sultan and members of his royal family.
Recently, Sultan Ibrahim received his new “Gold” Boeing 737 aircraft that touched down at the Senai International Airport after flying in from the United States.
Sultan Ibrahim, who is a qualified pilot, said that his latest aircraft, which could accommodate between 25 and 30 people, would be used to promote Johor.
“I want to travel the world like my ancestors who once travelled around in ships,” he said, adding that he would have to go for his simulator training in Brisbane before flying the plane.
He also hoped to bring the less fortunate to Mecca for their Haj pilgrimage in his plane and bring along government officials on his trips.
It was reported that Sultan Ibrahim would use his newly acquired custom- made Mack truck in the upcoming Kembara. But no matter what kind of transportation the Ruler uses, his subjects would always be eagerly on the lookout for him.
his royal highness at the 15th edition of Kembara Mahkota Johor at Menara Aqabah in Pasir Gudang on Aug 24, 2013. Looking on is his royal consort raja Zarith sofiah ( in pink tudung) and their daughter Tunku Tun Aminah ( in grey baju kurung). — Abdul rahman Embong/ The star
sultan Ibrahim’s new Boeing 737 – 82Z jet which he hopes to use to bring the less fortunate to Mecca for their haj besides using it for his own travels.