TUANKU Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Badlishah is a caring Sultan with people's interests and welfare at heart.
Tuanku did not have the heart to celebrate his birthday last year, as it fell only weeks after the tsunami tragedy. The investiture ceremony was postponed to three months later.
Assistant state secretary Mohamad Rizal Mohamad Radzi had said that the Sultan had postponed his birthday celebration out of respect and sympathy for tsunami victims.
The Sultan was also worried about his sister who was holidaying in Phuket when tsunami wreaked havoc 13 months ago. The tsunami claimed more than 200,000 lives in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, India, Malaysia and the Maldives.
The anxious Sultan sought a Malaysian businessman's help to trace his sister when there was no news from her soon after the tragedy.
The businessman found her alive in a hotel not far from the devastated Patong Beach, and immediately informed the Sultan.
The Sultan is all for poverty eradication, agriculture and agro-based industry development, education excellence, environment protection, and economic boom.
The Sultan has called on the state government to adopt a more systematic method to eradicate hardcore poverty.
He said it would help the state attain zero hardcore poverty status by 2009.
He had emphasised the need to eradicate poverty on many occasions, as he wants every Kedahan to enjoy the benefits of development.
He also called on Kedahans to support the Government's campaign to promote a courteous and polite society, emphasising the need to educate children on good moral values right from young.
The Sultan also consented to presenting Bintang Semangat Jerai award to young high achievers.
The award was presented for the first time last year to youths under 18 years old who excelled in various fields including academics, sports and arts at national and international levels.
He had also expressed delight over the state government's success in attracting foreign investors and large companies.
Attributing the boost in the state's economic growth to foreign investments, the Sultan said such investments had created jobs and business opportunities.
He noted that the foreign investors have made Kedah their choice because of political stability, availability of trained workers and relatively good infrastructure.
To promote equitable deve-lopment, he called on the state to also focus on projects in rural districts including Pa-dang Terap, Pendang, Sik and Baling.
The Sultan, who was in-stalled as the country's fifth Agong from 1970 to 1975, is also an environmentalist.
The Sultan, a graduate of Wadham College, Oxford, had urged the state government to take pre-emptive measures to protect the environment.
He also called on the people to report cases of encroachment on forest reserves and illegal logging.
The Sultan, who has been reigning since 1958, advocates controlled development for a better quality of life.
One should refrain from indulging in activities that adversely affect quality of life, in line with the teachings of Islam, he said.
He said that not many people were aware that massive land and forest clearing could affect rivers, land and even buildings.
The Sultan also supports the Islam Hadhari concept being propagated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Muslims must follow the true teachings in Islam, he stressed.
Among the exciting programmes lined up for the Sultan's birthday are the River Sports Fair and Langkawi Fiesta.
The Sultan will also be opening the new Alor Star Court Complex, Rumah Merdeka, and Administration Museum in conjunction with the 78th investiture ceremony.