Johor palace says its Rulers have ‘never taken from the people’

Ben Tan
The Sultanate of Johor, since the reign of Almarhum Sultan Sir Ibrahim Sultan Abu Bakar in 1899 to date, has donated their entire state government allowances to assist the people of Johor. — Picture by courtesy of Johor Royal Press Office

JOHOR BARU, June 13 — The Johor palace took to Facebook today to clarify its state Rulers’ federal allocations.

The post in Malay was titled “the Johor monarchy has never taken from the people” and comes in the wake of revelations that Putrajaya had budgeted RM256.9 million to be used for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s facilities and amenities for a 16-month period recently.

In the post on the Facebook page of the Johor football team, the palace said that the Johor sultans have donated their entire state government allocations to assist Johoreans since the time of Sultan Sir Ibrahim Sultan Abu Bakar in 1899.

It added that the initiative was later continued and adjusted during the reign of Sultan Iskandar Ismail where the allocated funds were channelled to a foundation now known as the Sultan Iskandar Foundation.

And when Sultan Iskandar became the 8th Yang di-Pertuan Agong from 1984 to 1989, all his allowances from the federal government were donated to the foundation.

The statement also said the Sultan Iskandar Foundation not only assists the poor, but is also used to fund education, disaster relief and computer literacy projects for Johoreans.

“All revenue or income of the Sultanate of Johor has come from plantation management since the late Sultan Sir Ibrahim’s reign to date.

“The Johor royal family also has several other business interests, including in property,” the statement read.

The post also said Sultan Ibrahim has his own foundation aimed at providing assistance in the areas of education, welfare, student scholarships, medical aid and help to senior citizens, as well as people with disabilities.

“The funds for the foundation are contributed from all the royal allowances received by Sultan Ibrahim.” 

In 2015, during an interview with The Star, Sultan Ibrahim was reported to have defended his wide business interests, saying that he cannot rely on his RM27,000 allowance alone.

He was reported as saying that as Malaysia practises a constitutional monarch system, he has to earn his living like everyone else.

In the interview, the now 59-year-old state Ruler also said the Johor royal family’s involvement in business was not new as this had been the case since the time of his great-grandfather.

Sultan Ibrahim added that it was healthy for royalty to be involved in legitimate businesses instead of dubious dealings that could tarnish the royal institution.

Veteran newsman Datuk A. Kadir Jasin had sparked an uproar with a June 5 blog post disclosing that the federal government had allocated RM256.9 million from January 2017 to this April for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s facilities and amenities.

Kadir used the figure to convey that the Malay Rulers’ welfare and interests were completely protected when commenting on the now-resolved dispute over the appointment of Tommy Thomas as Attorney General.

But certain groups viewed his remarks differently, leading the police to investigate him for sedition and violating the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Act for posting about Yang di-Pertuan Agong on his blog. 

Kadir was also forced to resign from his position as the head of Media and Communications in the Council of Eminent Persons, which acts as the government’s advisers.