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Thursday January 25, 2007

Malaysian prince at Republic Day parade


Tunku Ismail Ibrahim
NEW DELHI: Malaysian prince Tunku Ismail Ibrahim is set to be the first foreigner to lead India’s mounted 61st Cavalry Regiment at the colourful Republic Day celebration tomorrow. 

The 22-year-old prince, who is a grandson of the Sultan of Johor, holds the rank of captain, and is the first non-Indian picked by Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to participate in the annual ceremony. 

“It will be a great honour to lead the unit, and a wonderful experience which I will cherish all my life,” Tunku Ismail told Malaysian reporters here last night while awaiting his father Tengku Mahkota Tunku Ibrahim Ismail’s arrival from Kuala Lumpur to watch the parade.  

In July 2003, the polo enthusiast enrolled as a cadet officer in the Indian Military Academy, India’s premier military training school located in Dehradun. 

“I am proud to be a part of the Indian army ... it is a great experience,” added Tunku Ismail, who was commissioned as a lieutenant in December 2004 and absorbed into the Indian army. The prince completed his early education at Sekolah Sri Utama Johor Baru and SRK St Joseph, pursued tertiary studies in Singapore and Australia, before enrolling in the Indian Military Academy. 

“It is a different world here. It is tough to cope and competitive (to join the army) because everybody in a country of one billion people wants to be in the military; it is (the) prestige,” he explained. 

At a trim 62kg, Tunku Ismail will ride his horse over a 10km trail in the chill of the winter morning and under a tight security blanket with more than 20,000 security personnel on standby. 

India, which adopted its republican constitution in 1950, uses the Republic Day ceremonies to showcase its military might and economic prowess. – Bernama  

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