Malaysiakini Letter

A humble tribute to a compassionate ruler

M Santhananaban  |  Published:

LETTER | The late Sultan Ahmad Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Abu Bakar, who passed away peacefully yesterday, May 22, after a prolonged illness at the National Heart Institute in Kuala Lumpur, was well known as a ruler who had a great heart, interest in people in general, sports, especially football and polo, and the well-being of his people, his family and friends.

He had an incredible memory for faces and names and gave generously to the causes of the welfare of the poor and the promotion of sports. His Royal Highness had a gracious bearing, good humour and a grand personality. He was also a meticulous host.

Sultan Ahmad Shah was always very prompt in responding to any calamity that struck his people and would immediately travel to the scene of any major disaster to show his concern and order immediate care and relief.

He believed strongly in recognising, remembering and rewarding all those who contributed to the well-being, peace and tranquillity and the progress, prestige and economic prosperity of both the state of Pahang and Malaysia.

Throughout his reign, from the Pahang State Honours lists, one could easily glean members of the royalty, the political establishment, the civil and uniformed services, professional corps, sports and NGO contingents, entertainment and entrepreneurial groups, businesspeople and ordinary folk as well.

As the 7th Yang di-Pertuan Agong from April 26, 1979, till April 25, 1984, he made a celebrated five-day visit to the Republic of Korea in March 1983 when he officially opened the Chancery of the Malaysian Embassy in Seoul, in the Hannam-dong area which is located opposite the UN Village.

That visit by Sultan Ahmad Shah was noteworthy as the Korean government issued First Day Covers and postage stamps to commemorate the occasion. The then president of the Republic of Korea, General Chun Do-hwan, was featured together with our then Agong in these commemorative items. (Some of these covers are available on eBay).

President Chun later became a close friend of the sultan and used to be invited to some of the latter’s family functions.

Although Chun was replaced and later subjected to prosecution and humiliation in a rapidly democratising, transparent and increasingly human rights-conscious new South Korea, Sultan Ahmad Shah kept his friendship with him and nurtured it.

This quality of loyalty to his friends, whether they were in high or low places, earned the sultan much love and respect. The late sultan was also a sociable person who could mingle easily with sports personalities and officials from all over the world. His charm and courtesy earned him a wide circle of friends and acquaintances in many countries.

His passing is a great loss to the country as most of his reign largely coincided with an era of peace and prosperity for Malaysia.

The Pahang Royal Family and the nation have lost a great patriarch and unifying force.


M SANTHANANABAN is a former Malaysian ambassador to Argentina and to the Republic of Korea (South Korea).

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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