A royal birthday bash with 20,000 in attendance

Halim Said

JOHOR BARU: More than 20,000 people joined the Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar to celebrate the ruler's birthday at a royal high tea ceremony held in the heart of the city today.

Sultan Ibrahim arrived at Dataran Bandaraya with Permaisuri Johor Raja Zarith Sofiah Sultan Idris Shah at about 3.45pm with the rest of the royal family.

On hand to welcome the ruler and the royal family was Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.

The square was filled with marquees and lined with a blue and red carpet to welcome the royal family and other state dignitaries.

Being a public holiday in the state, more than 20,000 people flocked to the venue as early as noon.

Sultan Ibrahim was spotted taking time to examine some 20 cakes on display, gifts from various hoteliers to commemorate the ruler’s special day.

The royal high tea also saw the appearance of two popular celebrities, Dayang Nurfaizah and Hafiz Suip of Akademi Fantasia 7 fame, who belted popular tunes for the royal audience.

There were also cultural performances by dancers and musicians from the Johor Heritage Foundation and members of the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.

Among those who did not want to miss the chance to celebrate Sultan Ibrahim’s birthday was trader, P. Alamelu, 55, who described the ruler as a person with a big heart.

“He does not segregate his subjects based on their race or background.

“Everyone in Johor is part of Bangsa Johor and we are proud of that. He is friendly and treats everyone fairly and equally,” said the loyal subject.