‘China is a good and reliable ally’

Johor Ruler: Crucial for Malaysia to maintain ties with key trading partner

PETALING JAYA: It’s crucial for Malaysia to maintain friendly relations with China, says Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar (pic).

Describing the Asian superpower as a “good and reliable” investment partner, His Majesty said Johor has had a long-standing good relationship with China since the time of his ancestors.

“A Chinese emperor once presented the ‘Double Dragon Precious Star’ award to my great-great-grandfather.

“After that, the Chinese were invited to Johor to cultivate gambier and pepper.

“That’s why I have been reiterating that the Chinese in Johor are not outsiders. They were invited to be here,” the Ruler said in an interview published in Sin Chew Daily yesterday, following a recent meeting at the palace in Johor Baru.

The Ruler’s great-great-grandfather Sultan Abu Bakar received the “Imperial Order of the Double Dragon” award from the Chinese emperor during the Qing Dynasty in 1892.

The award was first presented as a gift to foreigners in 1882. From 1908, it was also conferred on Qing Dynasty officials.

The year 2024 marks the 50th anniversary of Malaysia-China diplomatic ties, and Sultan Ibrahim has been closely following developments since the unity government was formed.

The Sultan took a jibe at a former leader who claimed that his visit to China was unsuccessful despite receiving a warm welcome in the country.

“Do you want them to stop buying our palm oil?” Sultan Ibrahim said of the leader, whom His Majesty did not name, adding that “it is better to pick a fight with someone of equal stature”, the Chinese daily reported.

Sultan Ibrahim is confident of the reputation he has built in China, as many heads of Chinese corporations had wanted to meet His Majesty.

The Ruler revealed that he had advised a company to collaborate with Chinese partners to engage in the processing, producing, refining and export of palm oil.

His Majesty said he would like to “go everywhere” when visiting China, adding that the country holds a special place in his heart as it reminds him of his son, the late Tunku Abdul Jalil, who was the third prince of Johor.

While battling cancer, Tunku Abdul Jalil underwent liver transplant surgery in Guangzhou, China, in 2014 under a special permit from the Chinese government.

This arrangement helped to enhance the warm relations between the Johor royal family and China.

As Sultan Ibrahim strived to foster closer friendship with China, His Majesty’s efforts to bring in Chinese developers, however, drew criticism, as some assumed that land was being taken away.

His Majesty said this is a misconception, adding that land cannot simply be taken away.

“Under the land ownership law, if you want to convert a leasehold (99-year tenure) land to freehold status, fees and fines will be imposed. Why is this an issue?”

Sultan Ibrahim said Johor, with its neighbour Singapore and three states along its borders, is more adept at dealing with foreigners and building mutually beneficial relationships.

“By offering better incentives to foreign investors, our products can go further, reaching more markets,” His Majesty added.

Sultan Ibrahim said providing more incentives to foreigners will not disadvantage locals in Johor.

Instead, Johoreans can benefit from more businesses and job opportunities that will be available, His Majesty added.

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