Permaisuri Agong speaks of ‘normal upbringing’, learning to cook, love for Twitter

Ida Lim
Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah high-fives a girl during a visit to Taman Sinar Harapan Ziyad Zolkefli in Cheras September 11, 2019. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 — Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah has credited her personality today to a “normal upbringing” without bodyguards, saying she also learned to cook from young despite being a princess.

Known for her down-to-earth demeanour, Tunku Azizah said she grew up without pomp and fanfare as she had not been the child of the Tengku Mahkota (crown prince) of Johor at the time but its Raja Muda or second in line to be the Sultan.

The distance from the throne meant the family was not as heavily guarded, she said in an interview with The Star published today.

“I saw my cousin growing up as the children of the Tengku Mahkota, but we grew up as the children of the Raja Muda. So there was not much demand, there weren’t bodyguards around us or police or anything.

“So I had a normal upbringing, which my children do not have because they have bodyguards and everything.

“That was what made me what I am today. Because I had a normal upbringing,” she was quoted as saying.

Tunku Azizah, who is the daughter of the late Sultan Iskandar Ismail of Johor, noted her different experiences growing up as it was only 10 days before her grandfather died that her father was reinstalled as crown prince.

In the interview, Tunku Azizah also spoke of how her parents had strictly insisted on their children learning how to cook, noting that her mother “was a cook” and would drag them into the kitchen to make them learn.

“Although, sometimes, when I would stay in the kitchen, the cooks would chase me out. Because they said anak raja (royal children), when they get married, cannot have scars, oil marks. But I stayed on,” she was quoted as saying.

“You have to learn how to cook, at the end of the day, you are still a wife and you still have to cook for your family,” she added.

Tunku Azizah said she will not write more cook books containing her recipes to add to her two — Air Tangan Tengku Puan Pahang - Masakan Tradisional Pahang and Manisan (Air Tangan Tengku Puan Pahang - Manisan Tradisional Pahang) — on traditional Pahang cuisine and desserts.

“I’ve collected them since I was eight or nine years old. I’ve got 500 istana recipes from Johor, Pahang and Kelantan that I have cooked.

“I am still negotiating with my daughter, who thinks I shouldn’t share my recipes with anybody. She says ‘No mama, it’s top secret!’ I told my daughter, we have to share, it’s not right, but she kept saying ‘No, they’re mine’. So I’m still negotiating with her,” she said.

Tunku Azizah, who is married to the Pahang Sultan and current Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, said she found Pahang food healthy as it typically uses less oil as the fish and beef are smoked while salad herbs or ulam-ulam are also common.

Despite a recent social media furore, Tunku Azizah said the Agong loves the video-sharing site YouTube while she preferred microblogging site Twitter as she loves to read the news and follows the accounts of news agencies such as CNN and BBC.

While saying she followed sajak or poetry accounts as well as Indonesian poets, Tunku Azizah confessed that her Twitter replies with poetry are actually written by her children’s tutor.

“But please, I cheat there (laughs)! It is not me, I have my sajak writer, he is a Chinese man from Kuantan who is called Cikgu Teoh. He taught my daughters their tuition lessons.

“Every time somebody sends me a sajak, I will copy and send it to Teoh. ‘Teoh, please answer the sajak for me’. Within a minute, he will reply. Everybody thinks I am a poet, no (more laughter)! It is Teoh. So today, I want to share, I tipu all this while! I don’t know how to write sajak, I don’t know how to write pantun (verses),” she said.

However, Tunku Azizah disclosed that she personally wrote tweets that touch on Islam.

Tunku Azizah also explained that she took photos with her smartphone during the Merdeka Day parade on August 31 as her husband, the Agong, asked her to do so as protocol and decorum prevented him from doing so personally.

She also explained a popular photograph of them laughing and waving at the parade, saying it stemmed from a meeting  with Putrajaya Corporation president Datuk Aminuddin Hassim at the Floria Putrajaya event the previous day, when the latter told them he would be riding a horse during the Merdeka Day parade.

“So Tuanku said ‘You are riding? Are you sure? I don’t want you to fall’. When he passed by on a horse (during that parade), Tuanku said, ‘Look, that is Datuk Aminuddin’. So we were waving and laughing,” she was quoted as saying.

Tunku Azizah also said she gave up her third term as elected director of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts’ fund-raising arm Olave Baden-Powell Society when she became Queen but has been given a new title as benefactor.

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