Savvy and pas­sion­ate ruler

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - DAULAT TUANKU SULTAN JOHOR - By NELSON BEN­JAMIN nelson@ thes­tar. com. my

JO­HOR Ruler Sul­tan Ibrahim Ibni Al­marhum Sul­tan Iskan­dar is cel­e­brat­ing his of­fi­cial birth­day to­day in a rel­a­tively low- key man­ner in Jo­hor Baru.

The Sul­tan wants the cel­e­bra­tions to be toned down due to the demise of his son, the Tunku Lak­samana of Jo­hor Tunku Ab­dul Jalil Iskan­dar, end of last year.

The Ruler comes from a line of strong- willed, in­de­pen­dent and savvy Rulers, who are pas­sion­ate about de­vel­op­ing Jo­hor into a mod­ern and pro­gres­sive state.

Sul­tan Ibrahim’s vi­sion for the state is to make it the next eco­nomic power house for Malaysia af­ter the Klang Val­ley.

Last year was a his­toric mo­ment for the state when Sul­tan Ibrahim was crowned the fifth Ruler of mod­ern Jo­hor. This cer­e­mony was held in the state af­ter 55 years.

The last corona­tion in the state was held for Sul­tan Ibrahim’s late grand­fa­ther Sul­tan Is­mail Ibni Al­marhum Sul­tan Ibrahim in Fe­bru­ary 1960.

Sul­tan Ibrahim’s royal con­sort Raja Zarith Sofiah Al­marhum Sul­tan Idris Shah was con­ferred the Per­maisuri of Jo­hor ti­tle.

The corona­tion was cel­e­brated with much pomp not just in Jo­hor Baru, but in all the dis­tricts as well.

The Sul­tan takes in­ter­est in de­vel­op­ment poli­cies and projects spear­headed by the Jo­hor and Fed­eral gov­ern­ments, and is al­ways con­cerned about their im­pact on his sub­jects.

Since as­cend­ing the throne in 2010, Sul­tan Ibrahim has had no qualms voic­ing his opin­ions or dis­plea­sure on var­i­ous is­sues.

The Sul­tan is also a savvy busi­ness­man who has in­vested in an ar­ray of busi­nesses both lo­cally and abroad. He is also an avid trav­eller who wants to visit the world like his an­ces­tors who had done so in ships.

He is a pas­sion­ate col­lec­tor of cars and mo­tor­cy­cles both new and old, and has garages packed with ve­hi­cles within the palace grounds. His lat­est pur­chase is a new “Gold” Boe­ing 737 air­craft. His ear­lier pur­chase was the world’s most ex­pen­sive Mack truck that has fancy gad­gets, in­clud­ing a six- cam­era CCTV sys­tem, two flat screen TVs, a stone- topped kitchen area, bar­be­cue, dou­ble bed and seats with 72,000 stitches of gold thread.

Sul­tan Ibrahim places great em­pha­sis on racial unity and wants rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Malay, Chi­nese and In­dian non- gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions ( NGOs) to be part of his com­mit­tee for the an­nual Kem­bara Mahkota Jo­hor ex­pe­di­tion to pro­vide feed­back and in­put.

The Ruler is also fond of his an­nual Kem­bara Mahkota Jo­hor pro­gramme, which has been on­go­ing since 2001. Last year, he drove around in a bus, in­ter­act­ing with the rakyat and pro­vid­ing aid to the needy.

Those who have met Sul­tan Ibrahim de­scribe him as a warm Ruler with a colour­ful per­son­al­ity and a good sense of hu­mour.

He was also touched and awed by the grand wel­come he re­ceived dur­ing the Chin­gay cel­e­bra­tions at­tended by thou­sands in Jo­hor last month.

His pas­sion for sports is also well known. In his youth, he played a mean game of polo not just lo­cally but also abroad in tour­na­ments held in Sin­ga­pore, the Philip­pines and Brunei. He was known as the best polo player in Asia dur­ing the polo world qual­i­fi­ca­tions in the 1990s.

Sul­tan Ibrahim also en­joys para­sail­ing, boat­ing ( jet ski), parachut­ing, shoot­ing and driv­ing sports cars. He once emerged as cham­pion in a fall­ing plate shoot­ing event or­gan­ised by the army in Pu­lada.

Sul­tan Ibrahim, the third of 10 chil­dren and the el­dest son, was born at the Sul­tanah Ami­nah Hos­pi­tal.

He re­ceived his for­mal education at Seko­lah Te­meng­gong Ab­dul Rah­man ( 1) be­fore head­ing for Trin­ity Gram­mar School in Aus­tralia and later to the United States to con­tinue his stud­ies in law and diplo­macy. He ob­tained his religious education from Seko­lah Agama Air Molek.

Af­ter com­plet­ing his sec­ondary education, Sul­tan Ibrahim un­der­went ba­sic mil­i­tary train­ing at Pusat Lati­han Darat in Kota Tinggi for three months.

He also re­ceived mil­i­tary train­ing in the United States at Fort Ben­ning, Ge­or­gia, and later at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

He was ap­pointed deputy com­man­der of the Jo­hor Mil­i­tary Force upon com­plet­ing his mil­i­tary train­ing over­seas. He has trained and served in the Air Force and Navy, and is also a qual­i­fied green beret com­mando in Malaysia and the United States.

He is also a mem­ber of the Red Beret Kom­pa­sus of In­done­sia and a fully qual­i­fied di­ve­mas­ter.

As part of his train­ing for king­ship, Sul­tan Ibrahim joined the Jo­hor Civil Ser­vice and served in var­i­ous de­part­ments, in­clud­ing the district of­fice, land, health and trea­sury de­part­ments.

In 1981, he was pro­claimed the Tunku Mahkota of Jo­hor.

He is mar­ried to Raja Zarith Sofiah, a Perak- born princess and an Ox­ford Univer­sity grad­u­ate. She is also the Chan­cel­lor of Univer­siti Te­knologi Malaysia ( UTM).

The cou­ple is blessed with six chil­dren – Tunku Is­mail Idris, Tunku Ami­nah Maimu­nah Iskan­dariah, Tunku Idris Iskan­dar Is­mail Ab­dul Rah­man, the late Tunku Ab­dul Jalil Iskan­dar Ibrahim Is­mail, Tunku Ab­dul Rah­man Has­sanal Jef­fri and Tunku Abu Bakar Mah­mood Iskan­dar Ibrahim.

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