Humble and sporting Ruler

Sultan Abdullah giving the Jalur Gemilang to ex-national football coach Datuk K. Rajagopal before a match in October 2011. — M. AZHAR ARIF/The Star

DATUK Mohd Rashid Hasnon’s first close encounter with Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah was when he was Penang deputy chief minister.

He said Sultan Abdullah (who was then Tengku Mahkota of Pahang) had just been appointed as president of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) in May 2014.

“As the head of a prestigious sports association, His Majesty handled his responsibilities firmly when facing criticism from various quarters, especially from sports fans and critics from all over the country.

“I never saw Sultan Abdullah get angry or feel offended by any remarks. Instead, he took the comments in his stride and viewed them as constructive criticism for the future of the country’s football, ” he said in an interview with The Star.

Mohd Rashid added that every time he and His Majesty met during a friendly football match involving Penang, Pahang or Selangor, Sultan Abdullah would approach the spectators and amiably chatted with them.

“That really grabbed my attention. Tuanku was never arrogant and treated everybody with full respect although His Majesty is a highly respected figure.

“His Majesty is very well acquainted with football and adopted some of the concepts of the game during his term as FAM president.

“Tuanku is an excellent planner who can strategise amazingly and communicate well with all the players in order to achieve victory.

“From my personal point of view, Sultan Abdullah is a warm person with a friendly smile.

“Tuanku is also an interesting character and Members of Parliament get to meet him when the Parliament convenes during the start of each meeting, ” he added.

Mohd Rashid often saw His Majesty chatting with spectators at matches.Mohd Rashid often saw His Majesty chatting with spectators at matches.

Mohd Rashid, who is Batu Pahat MP and the Dewan Rakyat’s Deputy Speaker, added that the King would give his advice and views to all MPs as the head of the country.

“The King’s speeches are very much in line with the Standing Order and rules of the august House, showing his deep understanding in the administration and management of Parliament, ” he said.

He also noted that His Majesty follows the Federal Constitution in all of his speeches to ensure that it becomes a guide and basis for Malaysia.

Recalling last year’s leadership crisis, when each lawmaker was summoned to meet His Majesty one by one, Mohd Rashid said Sultan Abdullah was calm and listened to their opinions.

On His Majesty’s personal life, Mohd Rashid said the King was known to be very close with his family members, especially his wife and children.

“Tuanku spends time with his children and usually interacts with them during meals or while playing sports.

“Whenever I meet Tuanku, his family will always be by his side and Tuanku will introduce them to all of us, ” he added.

“Sultan Abdullah is a leader who is moderate, including as the head of Islam in Malaysia.

“Everything is conducted perfectly according to the tenets of Islam and implemented in moderation, ” Mohd Rashid said.

He added that prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw the enforcement of movement restrictions including physical distancing, Sultan Abdullah had consented for the surau located within the Istana Negara grounds to be opened to the public for Friday prayers.

“As the head of state that upholds Islam, His Majesty’s life is very close to religion, ” Mohd Rashid said, adding that Sultan Abdullah was also a humble and down-to-earth person.

“Tuanku will sometimes stop by the roadside and talk to the rakyat.

“He has even helped small businesses by buying items directly from the rakyat, which they really appreciate, ” he said.

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