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LETTER | Sultan Ibrahim, a rakyat-centric king

LETTER | Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang became the Agong at a time of profound change in the nation’s political landscape.

Under his reign, Malaysia navigated through the unprecedented challenges posed by the global Covid-19 pandemic, demonstrating resilience and achieving a commendable recovery.

Throughout the nation’s political turbulence, which saw three short-lived prime ministers, Sultan Abdullah’s intelligence, foresight, wisdom and prudential judgement ensured that political stability was finally restored with the formation of the unity government.

As Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar of Johor assumed the role of the new Agong yesterday, there is anticipation that he will continue to foster a strong and positive working relationship with the Anwar Ibrahim administration - which was already so evident before.

His traction with the people on the ground is intense and profound. Interestingly, this sentiment is universal across diverse ethnic groups, which is not unnatural as Sultan Ibrahim is known to understand the pulse of the rakyat.

Furthermore, his understanding of the macro-economy and business is both immense and grounded in practical, real-world knowledge.

The new Agong’s acumen and insights will help to contribute to the facilitation of greater economic growth for the nation, for example, by increasing foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country.

Sultan Ibrahim has already expressed his desire to be a more participative Agong who’s involved and hands-on, in the matters of running the country and the well-being of the rakyat.

He will decide and act based on research founded on data, science and economics that’s good and beneficial for the nation.

As such, Sultan Ibrahim will also be a world-wise and pragmatic Agong with a deep understanding of ground realities, combining research with lots of empathy and sympathy for all and the many.

Sultan Ibrahim has unequivocally given his assurance that he’ll be the Agong for all 34.3 million Malaysians, not just 222 MPs.

So, Sultan Ibrahim will adopt a rakyat-centric approach. As exemplified in his gracious and considerate interactions with the rakyat, Sultan Ibrahim appears to intuitively understand the paramount expectations (heavy responsibility) that the people hold for their monarchs, which can also serve as an integrated expectation model of a monarch leadership such as:

  • Unite rakyat around big ideas and engage across diversity towards common progress as a nation.

  • Ensure the interest and well-being of the rakyat, which manifests in having a holistic overview of what the rakyat really needs, and the ability to reach out or stay close to the rakyat.

  • Provide check and balance vis-à-vis government institutions by auditing administration/government affairs, alerting and advising them to recalibrate their focus on the rakyat while also working effectively with all government institutions.

  • Being a role model in terms of governance by exemplifying good governance within constitutional rights, remaining apolitical and having empathy and compassion for the rakyat.

No one would disagree that Sultan Ibrahim embodies the above approach well.

Undoubtedly, his pro-rakyat stance will shine through his reign, which bodes well for political stability in the years to come and is also very congruent with the essence of the Madani economy concept.

‘Believer in diversity’

Another defining feature of Sultan Ibrahim’s reign is that he is rational when it comes to religious issues which are always sensitive.

He believes in religious harmony, mutual understanding, tolerance and the celebration of diversity. Sultan Ibrahim, therefore, will stand against extremism and will brook no compromise with the hardliners.

He surrounds himself with individuals of exceptional intelligence who are also distinguished by principled pragmatism.

These advisers provide him with competing wisdom that guides and informs his own conviction in serving the nation.

Under the reign of Sultan Ibrahim, there will be political stability that will, in turn, accentuate economic growth and prosperity for the many!


Dr Rais Hussin is the founder of Emir Research, a think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.

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

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