JOHOR BARU, July 10 — Unity and the wellbeing of the people have always been the core focus of His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, the 17th King of Malaysia, even when he reigned as the Sultan of Johor.

According to the Chairman of the Sultanah Fatimah Foundation (YSF), Mejar Cina Datuk David Wong Khong Soon, in Johor, Sultan Ibrahim always emphasised the concept of unity and mutual respect, transcending skin colours, ethnicity and religious beliefs.

“His Majesty will personally listen to the needs of his people and consider how best to help them, always prioritising the interests of the people because he is always hands-on with everything he does.

“For example, during disasters, His Majesty willingly braved floods to assess the situation and check on the people, in addition to providing food baskets, making personal donations, and instructing us to repair or rebuild homes damaged by the disasters,” he said in an exclusive interview with Bernama here recently.

Wong said five Johor royal foundations have also been established to meet various needs and demographics, namely the Sultan Ibrahim Foundation, Raja Zarith Sofiah Foundation, Sultanah Rogayah Foundation, Tunku Laksamana Johor Cancer Foundation, and the YSF.

“His Majesty has even donated over RM100 million to these royal foundations to help the people of various races and ethnicities,” said Wong, who was appointed as YSF chairman in 2023.

On His Majesty’s personality, Wong, who has been Sultan Ibrahim’s scuba diving buddy for 20 years, described the King as someone who has strong memory and vast knowledge in various fields, especially business.

He said Sultan Ibrahim has brought a lot of development to Johor through foreign investment in addition to establishing and maintaining close relations with leaders of other countries.

“His Majesty is super smart and has a memory of a computer. He has vast knowledge, be it about cars, boats, aircraft, agriculture, sports, cooking and, of course, business.

“Under His Majesty’s reign, Johor’s economy has improved, and the lives and wellbeing of the Johor people have also improved. With His Majesty’s excellence in Johor, Malaysia will surely develop further during his reign as the 17th King,” he said.

Wong also recounted an unforgettable moment in their 40 years of ‘friendship’ when Sultan Ibrahim, who was the Johor Crown Prince then, accompanied by Her Majesty Raja Zarith Sofiah, came to his house unannounced.

“It was really a surprise. Their Majesties came to my house unannounced, just to personally wish me and my family a Happy Chinese New Year,” he said.

Reiterating the beginning of their friendship, Wong said he met His Majesty in the early 1980s when he was about 30 years old, and they became close during their diving days.

“Those unforgettable days when we camped at Tanjung Kelisa, Tanjung Balau in the beef fondue, and beef ribs with just a simple seasoning of sea salt grilled using mangrove wood flame, swimming by the sea, riding jet skis, fishing and playing various water sports.

“Sometimes, when we were done with diving, we would relax and cook our own recipes, like ‘Black Power’ fried fish, fish porridge, Teochew steamed fish, and Chinese-style steak. We would sit down and eat together like true friends, regardless of His Majesty’s royal status, and to this day, our relationship remains very close,” he said.

On the YSF, Wong said the idea to establish the foundation in 2016 was mooted by His Majesty to assist and empower the underprivileged Chinese community in the state, but despite focusing on the Chinese, YSF also extends aid to all Johoreans.

On his royal title of ‘Mejar Cina’ (Chinese Major), Wong explained Sultan Ibrahim revived the title bestowed by the late Sultan Abu Bakar to leaders of the state’s Chinese community in the 19th century, as a continuation of the history of modern Johor, and a recognition of the significant involvement of the Chinese community in the development of Johor.

“The duties of the Mejar Cina include acting as a mediator between the Johor Palace and the Chinese Community to ensure that orders from the Palace reached the Community and their feedback and needs were conveyed to the Palace.

“I pray that God blesses His Majesty with good health and long life and that the King’s reign can prosper Malaysia as he has prospered the state of Johor. Daulat Tuanku!” Wong concluded.

The Installation Ceremony of Sultan Ibrahim as the 17th King of Malaysia will be held at the Istana Negara on July 20 and in conjunction with the ceremony, Bernama TV will broadcast the documentary Di Sebalik Mahkota on July 19. — Bernama