“Be like the padi, the heavier it grows the lower it bows, and don’t forget yourself,” this was among the messages instilled in the Acting Sultan of Pahang, Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Alam Shah (photo, above) who is now shouldering the duty of looking after the third-biggest state in Malaysia.
The message was given by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustaffa Billah Shah when handing over the administration of the state government to be looked after by Tengku Hassanal as soon he was appointed to the post in January.
Sharing his story, Tengku Hassanal said his father and mother, Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah also stressed on religious education other than always instilling humility among their children since young.
‘’My father and mother often remind us to always be courteous with the people regardless of where they come from and we cannot be proud.
‘’We must behave as such because we are all god’s creations,’’ he said at an interview with Bernama and Kosmo in conjunction with the installation of the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
The session was also joined by Tengku Amir Nasser Ibrahim Shah, Tengku Puteri Ilisha Ameera and Tengku Muhammad Iskandar Ri’ayatuddin Shah.
Despite being the eldest sibling and the much-awaited baby, prior to this, of Sultan Abdullah and Tunku Azizah after over 10 years of marriage, Tengku Hassanal conceded that he had been taught to be independent and to approach the people since small, including to his other siblings.
‘’Since I was 10 years old I had been sent to school abroad (Caldiccot Preparation School, United Kingdom), I was only with my father and mother and mother during school holidays. When my siblings and I returned to Malaysia, we always accompanied our father to official functions and visiting villages.
‘’My father sent all my siblings to England, not to show we have advantages over others in the country, but to make us humble.
‘’Father did not want us to be swollen-headed but wanted us to be humble. (The experience) in the United Kingdom taught us to be independent and how to be normal,’’ he said.
Recalling his most memorable experience at that time, Tengku Hassanal said that it was when Sultan Abdullah and Tunku Azizah cried at sending him off alone abroad at still a young age.
‘’They cried before they left me. I didn’t like seeing them cry. I said father don’t cry, after that they cried harder,’’ said Tengku Hassanal who liked polo and was more comfortable in dispensing with protocol when meeting the people, just like Sultan Abdullah.
Because he did not want people to know he was a prince, Tengku Hassanal said he only used the name ‘Shah’ but when undergoing military training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, his status was publicly known as many did an online search.
Nevertheless, he said that the training that he went through was the same and this helped him to mould his personality through rigorous and disciplined military training.
Asked who was fiercer, his father or mother, Tengku Hassanal laughed and said his mother Tunku Azizah was fiercer and stressed on appearance very much.
‘’Normally, mother is a messenger, if father wants to advise something he would do it through mother. Father does not like to be fierce but would rather be indulgent to his children. It is mother who is fierce with us.
‘’Like this handkerchief (while showing a handkerchief in his pocket). My mother always scolded me for not taking along a handkerchief and always reminded me to have a handkerchief when going out,’’ he said.
Realising that the task awaiting him in Pahang after the installation ceremony of his father tomorrow would be more heavy, he expressed confidence he could carry out the entrusted responsibility well as a result of their guidance and that of the late Sultan Ahmad Shah Musta’in Billah who was adoringly called ‘tok bok’.
‘’I often accompanied him when he visited incidents of fire, engagements with the public and this routine becomes a hobby to serve the people.
“...It is a legacy (the king and people are inseparable) which I will continue. And I believe it will not be me alone, but also my children and grandchildren, who will continue this legacy forever,’’ he added.