KUALA LUMPUR: As he prepares to be installed as the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong on his 60th birthday on Tuesday, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah is making it clear that he wants to see a Malaysia whose citizens are united and living in a peaceful, stable and harmonious country during his five-year reign.
However, Sultan Abdullah was quick to acknowledge that his wish may not be fulfilled in the short term.
“I am being realistic. I do not dare to promise (that a united Malaysia) will happen, but that is my wish. I will be very sad if over the next five years, our country is in chaos,” he said.
The King also expressed his hope that the government under the leadership of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad would further strengthen the country’s economy, improve the well-being of the people and be more active in helping those who in need.“I can only pray that we do not face this problem (chaos). I hope the rakyat will be cautious and contiآnue to be wise in deciding the country’s future,” the King said in an interview with The Star.
Sultan Abdullah, who was proclaimed the King on Jan 31, said he had been anxiously waiting for the installation ceremony to take place.
“It has been more than 160 days. I want to get it over and done with. I want to concentrate on my tasks as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
“Yes, the installation ceremony is important for the institution of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, which is part of the elements of the constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy.
“This is a tradition for each Yang di-Pertuan Agong to undergo and,
of course, it is an important event for me, especially, to be installed as the 16th King.”
On Jan 15, Sultan Abdullah was proclaimed the sixth Sultan of Pahang, taking over from Almarhum Sultan Ahmad Shah.
On Jan 24, he was elected the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong during the Special Meeting of the Conference of Rulers.
Sultan Abdullah took the oath and signed the instrument of office on Jan 31.
This was the first time a sitting King granted an interview to the media in recent times.
Over the course of the hour-long interview, Sultan Abdullah spoke on a wide range of issues including his legacy, family, passion for sports and his subjects.
He was also asked his thoughts on the challenge that the Malays were divided.
In a carefully worded reply, the King said he could only give advice.
“We are in the same boat and we cannot afford to have citizens who are not united.
“We always talk about unity, I touched on it in my address in Parliament. We have to prove this (unity). Please do not overreact and try to cause animosity, I would be quite worried if this continues,” he said.
Sultan Abdullah also addressed the question of the royals under attack, especially on social media.
Saying that he could only speak on behalf of Istana Pahang, Sultan Abdullah pointed out that the royals were no different because just like any institution or palace, they were constantly being watched by the people.
“As long as you do something for the rakyat and give something to them, that is the least we can do with out politicising (it). Usually when we are deemed to be trying to politicise something, that is when we will be criticised heavily.
“But let me say it here – when we are trying to get close to the rakyat, it is for humanitarian reasons and of our own goodwill, and not to get praises or votes. That has never crossed my mind,” he said.
Sultan Abdullah also said he was constantly reminded of the need for the monarchy to be relevant in a more open political and democratic atmosphere.
“If you feel that you are here as a museum piece, then you will end up in a museum. If you are here to serve and to be with the people, I am sure the people will know how to value you.
“I can’t speak for the future; this is all Allah’s will. Whatever system there may be, there is no guarantee that it will be there forever.
“I thank God that our constitutional monarchy has been in existence for so long and it depends on the rakyat to decide on this.
“I pray that what is more important is to have the best system (in place) for Malaysia so that the people are protected, as well as race and religion,” he said.
When asked whether he felt any pressure from certain groups, he did not deny it, though he described it as normal.
“It is a way of life. You will feel the pressure in any position of leadership. The question is, how do you manage such pressure? For me, I will try to understand the issue.
“I will engage with the respective people and we try to settle it through discussions. There is no problem that cannot be resolved if we sit at the same table and discuss it.
“Other countries also face their own problems, but our advantage is that we live in a multiracial and multireligious country with complex and very sensitive issues.
“So, we must understand the sensitivity of certain issues and if possible, we should avoid them and not twist them to the point of causing disunity among the people,” he said.
The King also addressed the question that many see the Sultans as being linked only to the Malays and Islam.
“The Raja-Raja Melayu must be Sultans for all races. I am a Malay and will automatically uphold my religion, but this does not mean that we should look down on other religions or other races. Not at all.
“On my part, in Pahang, we have never claimed that certain religions were wrong or certain races were wrong. No!
“Together we built a state or country and we should not be judgmental towards anyone for that matter. The perception given is not quite correct.
“Do not accuse the monarchy of being only for the Malays. That is not the way,” Sultan Abdullah said.
He also said it was not right to encroach on other religions.
“We have to respect other religions and races. There is no such thing as suppressing other religions or other (races). That is not right.
“We should not talk like that. We should co-exist and live together in our country, Malaysia. Don’t be susآpicious and start apportioning blame on certain races,” he added.
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