Selangor Journal
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah attends a welcoming ceremony at the Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on January 31, 2019. — Picture by REUTERS

Al-Sultan Abdullah an approachable king that genuinely cares

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 22 — Since ascending the throne as Malaysia’s 16th king in 2019, Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah has been known for his friendly and approachable personality, and has won the hearts of Malaysians with his warm demeanour and genuine concern for the well-being of his subjects.

Former Comptroller of the Royal Household for Istana Negara Datuk Seri Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin, who had worked so closely with His Majesty and Her Majesty Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, said the phrase ‘raja dan rakyat berpisah tiada’ (the ruler and people are inseparable) was truly exemplified during Al-Sultan Abdullah’s tenure as king.

“What you see is what you get. His Majesty has always been true to himself, a ruler who cares for his subjects. His Majesty often goes to the ground to help the people, especially during times of disasters such as floods, fires and accidents.

“Whenever floods occur, particularly in his home state of Pahang, Al-Sultan Abdullah would visit the affected areas to be with his subjects. In fact, His Majesty also sought external assistance to rebuild the homes of those affected,” he told Bernama in an interview.

Fadil, who is currently serving as the Malaysian ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), also recounted how the king, on multiple occasions, stopped his vehicle to help victims of road accidents, proving the genuine concern he had for the well-being of the people.

“Sometimes, Al-Sultan Abdullah would take the wheel, and if he encountered a road accident, His Majesty would pull over to ensure the victims were taken to hospital and he would also pay for their medical treatment.

“For your information, His Majesty has chosen not to receive any allowances as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong until now. 

“These allowances, including those designated for the queen, are channelled to (other essential matters), like the then Covid-19 Fund. This was not publicised though, just between His Majesty, the Finance Ministry and Prime Minister’s Department,” he said.

According to Fadil, the safety and health of the people during the Covid-19 outbreak in Malaysia was also a major concern for Al-Sultan Abdullah.

He said His Majesty received weekly briefings from former Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, the Health Ministry and other professionals without fail, diligently seeking the best solutions to address the pandemic.

“In fact, when some Istana Negara staff began showing symptoms of the virus, His Majesty exhibited genuine concern for our health.

“Those who were symptomatic but were not infected voluntarily expressed their desire to undergo a two-week quarantine (to which His Majesty consented).

“During that period, it became apparent that the example set by the king needed to be followed by the people, particularly in adhering to standard operating procedures (SOP). His Majesty consistently emphasised the importance of complying with SOP to avoid infection,” he said.

Underneath the warm and approachable demeanour, Al-Sultan Abdullah also proved to be a leader of calibre in steering the country’s economy and administration on the international stage.

Fadil said His Majesty had played an essential role in strengthening Malaysia’s international relations, including between Malaysia under the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the UAE, led by President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“On October 5 and 6 last year, the prime minister made his inaugural visit to the UAE and secured substantial economic investments from the UAE, who agreed to invest approximately RM40 billion in Malaysia.

“Our king also conducted state visits to other countries, illustrating that he is not only a force domestically but also a leader guiding our nation on the international stage,” he said.

Al-Sultan Abdullah will complete his term as the 16th Agong on January 30, and the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, will begin his reign as the 17th ruler for a five-year term effective January 31.

— Bernama

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