30/01/2024 07:52 AM

By Harlina Samson and Azlan Idris

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 29 (Bernama) – “I may not be the King of Malaysia after January, but if I can be, it’s (to be) the King of all your hearts.”

That is the wish of Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah who will end his reign as the country’s 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong, tomorrow.

Even though he will no longer be the reigning King of Malaysia and will be returning to his home state as the Sultan of Pahang, Al-Sultan Abdullah still wants the people of Malaysia to remain united and work together to develop Malaysia.

“I hope the people will continue to reflect and give all their cooperation to advance and enhance our country's economy and to unite all our people across all communities, all levels, and to be grateful and continue to be grateful.”

“I would also like to thank all the media, throughout my time at Istana Negara. I apologise if there were any shortcomings, and I am truly grateful (for your cooperation),” the outgoing King said in a special interview with editors and senior journalists of mainstream media at Istana Negara, recently. 

The interview, conducted in a relaxed manner with the presence of Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, lasted almost two hours.

The five-year reign of Al-Sultan Abdullah witnessed a colourful epoch marked by various events, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented change of four Prime Ministers with different Cabinets in Malaysian history.

Despite those numerous challenges, His Majesty was seen to have remained calm, resolving problems with wisdom, as delicately as pulling the hair from the flour.

Sharing his secret of maintaining composure under intense pressure, as well as sorrow over the demise of his father, Paduka Ayahanda Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah on May 22, 2019, Al-Sultan Abdullah said great leaders at any level must have patience in handling problems, must always engage in self-reflection, and make swift decisions.

“Alhamdulillah, I have been taught to be patient. We perform prayers and recite a lot of zikr. I'm not saying I’m exceptionally devout, but the practices we've maintained over the years bring peace. In truth, if we stick to our practices, we leave everything to Allah. Insya-Allah, hidayah (guidance from Allah) will find its way to us,” the King said.

On the experience in overseeing the administrations of four prime ministers, namely Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Al-Sultan Abdullah noted that each had their unique strengths.

“The four prime ministers are leaders with vast experience, I’m not.

“Yes I was the Crown Prince (of Pahang) for many years, but I’ve only been the Sultan of Pahang for 15 days before ascending to the federal throne as Malaysia’s King. There’s a lot of things that I don't know, so I had to ask, learn, and read a lot so that I could at least answer some questions,” said His Majesty.

Despite describing his five-year reign as a challenging time, Al-Sultan Abdullah admitted that it was also filled with sweet memories.

“I believe I have done as best as I could. First, to bring peace and stabilise the country, stabilise the political scenario then, even if not drastically, at least to maintain harmony and stability until now,” he said.

Al-Sultan Abdullah also emphasised the importance of respecting the democratic process that allows a government to be formed after general elections and to be maintained until the end of its term.

“...the change of government is not an easy matter because it causes us, the people and the country, to suffer financial loss, time loss. I don't want to discredit any political party, but the experience of changing the government is a process that is quite detrimental to the country.

“We already have a written democratic process which stated that every five years we have a general election, so let at least four, five years pass for a government to govern, not just one or two years to change arbitrarily,” said His Majesty.

At the same time, Al-Sultan Abdullah criticised the Dubai Move which is alleged to overthrow the MADANI Government led by Anwar, and reminded all politicians not to be so engrossed in politicking, but instead to focus on developing the country, improving the economy and uniting all races.

“So, let's not be too parochial, don't be narrow-minded, that's one of my sacred advices. I also feel sad to leave if I see the people are not united and yes, I hope this effort to harmonise the situation and unite the people can be worked on continuously,” the outgoing King said.

As the Head of State, His Majesty takes great interest in administrative affairs by holding pre-Cabinet meetings with the prime minister every week, each lasting about 45 minutes to an hour.

“I have held pre-Cabinet meetings with the prime ministers 157 times (as of December 2023) and a day before each meeting, I will read the Cabinet papers. Whatever needs further inquiry, I will inquire. Whichever I agreed, I agreed, and the ones I didn’t, I didn’t.

“Alhamdulillah, all views and advice of each prime minister, I accepted; and my remarks, the prime minister will inform the Cabinet. So, it’s two-way reciprocal cooperation with all four prime ministers within five years,” said Al-Sultan Abdullah, while showing the notebook he used to record all related matters during those meetings.

When asked about the formation of the Unity Government, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong stated that it was not really a new idea as it was proposed when Ismail Sabri took over as the 9th Prime Minister to enable the government to have a two-thirds majority strength.

However, the leaders of the political parties at the time did not respond to the suggestion of forming a Unity Government until after the 15th General Election, which resulted in a hung Parliament with no party or political coalition obtaining a majority to form a government.

“So when it came to this election (GE15), I wanted a harmonious situation in our country. It should start in Parliament itself. We can't keep fighting or thinking differently, we want to advance our country, to improve the good name of our country.

“My only intention is to have, if possible, all parties form a strong and solid government so that we can continue to develop a stable and successful country,” Al-Sultan Abdullah said.

On the performance of the Unity Government led by Anwar after one year of its establishment, the outgoing King said that one year is not a period to measure the success or failure of any prime minister and his government, as there will inevitably be weaknesses here and there.

“What’s important is that the government led by Anwar is trying to fix those weaknesses.

“We know there are many plans, Plan A, B, C, D...and there may also be policies that may not be popular, sometimes the government has to make less popular decisions for the good of the country in the future. I hope the government continues to provide understanding to the people out there,” he said.

On the international front, Malaysia witnessed Al-Sultan Abdullah playing an important role and having close relations with royalties and leaders worldwide to help strengthen Malaysia's diplomatic relations.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which restricted movement at the beginning of his reign, Al-Sultan Abdullah had the opportunity to travel abroad for state and special visits to several countries, including Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Jordan, Monaco, and the United Kingdom.

Understanding that his subjects were also affected and getting desperate to the extent of flying white flags outside their homes as a plea for help during the COVID-19 lockdown, Al-Sultan Abdullah and Tunku Azizah also decided to forgo their Royal Emoluments from March 2020 until now.

Thank you, Your Majesty. Daulat Tuanku!




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