A Sultan of many interests

Tuanku Abdul Halim was an ardent football fan, and is seen here celebrating Kedah's Malaysia Cup victory in 2016.

PETALING JAYA: The late Kedah Sultan Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah was a Ruler with diverse interests who always had the people's welfare at heart.

The Kedah Sultan passed away at 2.30pm on Monday at the age of 89.

Tuanku Abdul Halim had an amiable character that endeared him to his subjects who respected his humble and caring ways whenever the Sultan went to the ground to meet the rakyat.

He also kept in touch with the people through his active participation in various organisations including the Sultan Abdul Hamid College Old Boys Association, the Malaysia & Singapore Vintage Car Register, the Malaysian Snooker & Billiards Federation, the Kedah Golf Association and the Sultanah Bahiyah Foundation.

Together with his consort, Tuanku Hajah Bahiyah Tuanku Abdul Rahman, the late Ruler also attended various activities in primary and secondary schools as well as colleges and universities.

The late Sultan also championed the role of education in nation building. He was the chancellor of Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM), Widad University College and the Insaniah University College in Kedah.

Tuanku Abdul Halim was an avid reader who especially enjoyed reading biographies on other leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Tony Blair.

The late Sultan's love of sports, especially football and golf, was legendary.

He once walked for more than a kilometre to the Batu Kawan Stadium in Penang to watch his state team take on Perlis in the FA Cup Final in 2006 after his car was stuck in traffic.

Also close to Tuanku Abdul Halim's heart were animals.

He was known to have a mini zoo that housed various birds and animals at Istana Anak Bukit in Alor Setar. He was also said to have reared fish, including koi, and would even take on feeding tasks himself.

He has also been described as a music lover and was a fan of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Nat King Cole.

Despite his varied interests, the late Sultan was still keenly focused on his responsibilities as a Ruler, both at home and on the international stage.

During his tenures as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, first in 1970 and then in 2012, Tuanku Abdul Halim travelled to many countries to help Malaysia enhance diplomatic ties.

His connection with the Japanese royals goes back to 1970 when Emperor Akihito, then crown prince, visited Malaysia.

Chinese president Xi Jinping also paid a courtesy call to Tuanku Abdul Halim when he visited Malaysia in October 2013.

In September 2014, Tuanku Abdul Halim set off to Beijing and was given an official welcome and reception by Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan.

He has also seen two US presidents visiting Malaysia, the first being Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966 when he was the Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and Barack Obama in 2014 when he was Agong for the second time.

He ended his term as the 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong in December last year and was replaced by Kelantan Ruler Sultan Muhammad V.

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