KUALA LUMPUR, July 25 — Most leaders style themselves as worldly and urbane, but Malaysia’s 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong has no qualms in admitting his humble roots.

“I was born in Pahang, I was born in a kampung, I am a kampung boy,” Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah told Astro Awani in an interview published on its website today.

The Pahang Ruler, who turns 60 next Tuesday, has been described as humble and down-to-earth by subjects in his home state.

High praise for the king spread soon to the rest of the country after his election to the throne in January, after pictures and videos were shared online showing Sultan Abdullah and his wife Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah Iskandar queueing up to buy their own fried chicken at a KFC outlet in  Temerloh last month.

Mere days after, pictures and videos of the Agong stopping his motorcade on the road to Putrajaya to offer assistance to a driver in distress by the roadside threw the Malaysian online community into a tizzy.

“When I was a teenager, there was no protocol. I could go out cycling with the village kids.

“Because we lived in a kampung atmosphere, there was no protocol at all, not even a bodyguard, not even when I was schooling.

“I’d go alone... sometimes by cycling. Like usual, like other kids. That might have made me able to interact spontaneously with the villagers,” Sultan Abdullah told the Malay broadcaster.

However, the monarch indicated that his life was not all fun and games, especially after he became the Pahang crown prince at the age of 15, and was entrusted with many responsibilities by his father, the late Sultan Ahmad Shah.

“As such, my life experiences are many, things related to the rakyat, or the government, or organisations, or even family, my father would tell me ‘Please sort this out, please look at this, please help with this, please fix this’.”

The Agong was also reported to be supportive of using social media to spread news, noting that it can be an avenue to widen the public’s knowledge on even palace affairs if used properly.

“This way, we can know a little more, give views... and Alhamdulillah... the Istana Negara is now open to those with interest in the palace and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Raja Permaisuri,” he was quoted saying.

The video broadcast of the interview will be aired on Astro Channel 501 at 9pm July 30, on the day of the Pahang Ruler’s installation as king of the federation of Malaysia.