Tuanku Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar was crowned as the fifth Sultan of modern Johor at the Istana Besar Monday yesterday.
Sultan Ibrahim represents a new generation of royalty able to break past tradition to mingle directly and casually with the rakyat, express his views openly on issues and able to engage the media. Few bloggers here and many others had the honour of discussing issues with his Majesty.
His Majesty ascended to the throne in 2010 but the coronation was postphoned till yesterday. For Johorean, it is the first royal coronation in 55 years since Almarhum Sultan Iskandar decided not to do a coronation.
Johor Baru will be filled with street parades, fireworks and four days of free concerts at Danga Bay to commemurate the event.
March 23rd have already officially been gazetted as Hari Keputeraan Sultan Johor public holiday to coincide with the official crowning of the Sultan of Johor to replace the November 22nd public holiday.
The same ceremony was also to crown Raja Zarith Sofiah Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah as the Permaisuri of Johor.
Some newspaper reported that the title is used for the first time but as once explained personally by His Highness, the title Permaisuri was the traditional practise in Johor and not Sultanah as used by previous Sultans.
The highlight of the celebrations when the Mufti of Johor placed a jewel-encrusted crown on Sultan Ibrahim Ismail can be seen in the video below:
The ceremony in Johor is unlike the use of tanjak in the ceremony of other Malay Sultan. The 1.6 kg royal crown was made by London jeweller J.W. Benson. Interesting background of the coronation can be found in NST here, You Tube here and Singapore's Singapore Times here.
Present to witness the ceremony are Sultan Ibrahim’s mother Enche Besar Hajah Khalsom Abdullah; the sultan’s elder sister Johor Tunku Puteri Tunku Kamariah Sultan Iskandar; the sultan’s younger sister Tunku Besar Zabedah Sultan Iskandar; The Tunku Mahkota of Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim and Che Puan Khaleeda Bustamam as well as the other children of Sultan Ibrahim.
Also present were brother Malay Sultans; Prime Minister Dato Najib Tun AbdulRazak, Menteri besar Dato Khaled Nordin, and local and foreign dignitaries.
People of Johore was able to witness the ceremony via RTM. The You Tube below:
An extract from Channel News Asia report here described Sultan Ibrahim as a Sultan with a difference:
Despite the grandeur of the occasion, many Johoreans feel their king is a humble man. Zabariah Mohd Nor, a homemaker, said: "He's a man of the people. We are pleased with his character."His Majesty and the family takes a keen interest in the welfare of the people and can seldom be seen visiting the rakyat at hospitals, flood relief centres, kampong homestay and even common folks warong.
Ellyza Yusof, a religious teacher, said: "Now we'll get to see the reality. God willing, this Sultan is a man of the people who stands by the people."
Certainly, the people will be paying close attention.
This blogger had a late uncle who perform traditional massage and was paid a surprise visit by his Majesty for service at his humble home in Kampong Separap, Batu Pahat. Our uncle had only a common tikar mengkuang to offer his Majesty to lie on while he performs the urut.
His Majesty made it an annual affair to touch base with the people through a program called Kembara Mahkota which was initiated since the days as Tengku Mahkota.
As Head of the State Government of Johor, his Majesty makes an effort to know the going-ons and gave his input to the administration.
His Majesty is not unaccustomed to controversies but the difference with the past is His Majesty acknowledge the new environment of openness and make the effort to engage with media, privately and publicly.
His Majesty takes on questions from the media without any need for censorship.
To quote His Majesty from The Star interview, he said, "I think I am a friendly and easy-going person. I am straight-talking. I cannot stand hypocrites. I expect people to speak up. Be a man. You have asked me difficult questions straight to my face."
The Star certainly did.
In the first serie here, His Majesty express his wishes and hope for Johor, explained himself on issues relating his business interest, certain development in Johor Baru and controversial land reclamation in Iskandar Malaysia.
The second part of the serie here caught the social media buzing with the above quote on excessive award of Datokship.
His Majesty also covered issues on environment and state development.
A ruler with such concern augers well for Johor.
The concern and sensitivity to the common people, and support from His Majesty will be much needed for the state administration to address basic livelihood problems faced by Johoreans in facing up to wave of political, economic and social change in Johor.