WHEN Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar (main pic, right) takes over the throne from Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah (main pic, left) as the new Yang di-Pertuan Agong (YDPA) in January next year, an “interesting time” will be in store for Malaysians.
Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim hinted as much when he said his father has a “clear agenda” on what he plans to do given the “unstable political situation in the country”.
Will the new king restore order by exerting his influence on politicians, especially those still cooking up plots to seize power?
The sultan did express his displeasure at all the political shenanigans in the numerous statements he made that could be summed up in his one pithy line: “Enough is enough.”
He is unhappy with politicians who constantly harp on sensitive issues that could disrupt unity, peace and harmony. Sometime in March this year, the sultan had issued a stern warning against those out to create disunity in Johor.
He believes that “understanding and mutual respect among the races are the backbone of the unity of the Johor people”. That is the line of his thought which he has been pursuing “for years”.
What the ruler said about preserving unity in Johor will go beyond the borders of his state when he becomes the king of Malaysia. On the national stage, he can be expected to vigorously repeat his warning because national unity is of paramount importance.
The most striking part of his agenda – and one that will send shivers down the spine of crooked politicians – is his determination to root out corruption. He made this crystal-clear in a recent interview with the Singapore Straits Times when he unreservedly said, “I am going to hunt all the corrupt people.”
Corruption is indeed the bane of Malaysia and it has become so entrenched that it might take years to rid this cancerous growth from the body politic.
During Sultan Ibrahim’s five-year reign, Malaysians can expect to see many “trophies” hanging on the wall of Istana Negara as a result of the big-time hunting game. When corrupt politicians are caught, they cannot yell “political persecution” because the Agong is above politics.
When Sultan Ibrahim surveys the political scene next year, he may not like what he sees. Politicians are still an unruly lot. They pay little heed to calls for tempers to cool, ignore advice to promote harmony, reject attempts to forge national unity.
The biggest challenge that the new king will face is how to response to politicians who constantly harp on race and religion to advance their parochial agenda.
Race and religion constantly figure prominently in most political discourse and are driving a wedge in the Malaysian society. It is nearing a phase where a spark could ignite a conflagration.
Yet our politicians are stone-deaf to calls for moderation and sanity. They appear to be hell-bent on whipping up sentiments that can inexorably lead to tragic consequences.
But there is still hope for calmer days with the enthronement of the new king who has made known his distaste for politicians who “cannot get on the same page” as they busily strive to “derail stability”.
In recent years, the monarchy has been unexpectedly thrust into the political arena to choose a captain to helm a listing ship of state amidst political uncertainty.
Given the continuing tense situation, Sultan Ibrahim can be expected to play a more significant role in checking the errant ways of politicians.
In these disturbing times, cracking the royal whip is what is sorely needed to bring sanity back to political narratives.
So, Malaysians stay tuned to the royal wrath to come. – Dec 18, 2023
Phlip Rodrigues is a FocusM reader.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Main pic credit: Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar’s Facebook