alHamra, City Centre – The Sultan of Johore, Sultan Iskandar Ibni Almarhum Sultan Ismail has passed away around 7.08 pm today. It is a sorrowful day for the Royal family of Johore and also our fellow Johoreans including myself.
As a Johorean, I grew up during his era where he reigned the monarchy since Sultan Ismail’s demise in 1981. I remember seeing his official pictures and the Sultanah’s which were adjacently hung at the schools I attended all my life.
Despite of the controversies that took place in the 1980s, the people of Johore had held high respects for Sultan Iskandar till this day. It is peculiar to find Johoreans relating stories of the Sultan as if they knew him personally. The Johore people were proud of his “audacity and garangness” which had made a lot of people fear him. I think the good thing about it is that fear actually institutionalised him as THE ruler of Johore and he made us Johoreans felt safe from foreign threats, be it the internal or the external ones.
Even though Sultan Iskandar was garang, he was more laid back in terms of royal protocol. He would wear and behave as he pleased nonchalant of the royal norms adhered by most monarchy figures. A disposition which made him look very rakyat-like because he was just like any one of us.
Sultan Iskandar appreciated good music especially the traditional ghazal from Johore.
During my undergraduate convocation at the IIUM in 2005, his daughter had happened to be one of the graduates that year. Me and my friends had the best convocation ceremony ever in history because besides the gamelan there was also a special ghazal group from Johore performing during the scroll presentation intervals. This live session was slot in by the request of Sultan Iskandar. The lively performance filled the hall with melodious tunes that had us and even foreign graduates tapping their feet to the songs. It wasn’t like any other convocation ceremony that were usually sombre and dull. It was an event to remember and it shall be engraved in our memories forever.
Last year, I was destined to meet the respected Sultan again. It took place by coincidence. I had no idea what the royalty protocols were like and kept making mistakes in addressing him as Tuanku as we spoke. However, Sultan Iskandar took none of this at heart and pursued on asking about my kampung which was not so far from the palace. At that moment, nervousness had me shivering down to my spine but I’m glad that I had the opportunity to speak to him once in a lifetime.
Dear Tuanku, we thank you for your invaluable services rendered to the people and our nation throughout your reign as the Sultan of Johore and Agung. May Allah Bless upon your soul always daiman abadan. Al-Fatihah.