23 January, 2010

Our very much respected and loved Johor sultan is dead

DYMM Sultan Johor Tuanku Sultan Iskandar Al Haj Ibni Almarhum Sultan Ismail Al Khalidi, 77, died at the Puteri Specialist Hospital at 7.15pm after being admitted last night following an illness.

Menteri Besar Abdul Ghani Othman in announcing the Sultan's demise said that his remains would be buried at the Bukit Mahmoodiah Royal Mausoleum at 2pm tomorrow.

"The Sultan of Johor was very much respected and loved," he said when reading the statement to announce the death of the Sultan at Bangunan Sultan Ibrahim, in Johor Bahru at 11pm.

He said the proclamation of the new Sultan of Johor would be made tomorrow at Istana Besar before the funeral.

Earlier yesterday, Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ibrahim Ismail Sultan Iskandar was appointed the Regent of Johor in a ceremony at the Istana Besar.

Tunku Ibrahim, who is the eldest son, is married to Raja Zarith Sofiah Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah and they have five sons and two daughters.

When asked by journalists on the cause of death, Abdul Ghani declined to elaborate.

"May Allah bless the soul of the late sultan," he said at a media conference.

The menteri besar said the sultan's remains would be taken to the Bukit Mahmoodiah Royal Mausoleum beginning at 1.30pm tomorrow.

He said the people of Johor could pay their last respects to the sultan at Istana Besar beginning at 9am while state dignitaries could pay their last respects between 11am and 12.30 noon.

The 78-year-old sultan was born on April 8, 1932 at Istana Semayam in Johor Bahru.

He received his early education from the English College in Johor Bahru, now known as the Sultan Abu Bakar School.

The sultan continued his education in Australia and the United Kingdom before he served as a cadet officer in the Johor Civil Service.

He was appointed as crown prince in 1981.

The sultan is also known for his interest in polo, surfing, hunting and golf.

Seven days of mourning

Meanwhile, Abdul Ghani called on the people of Johor to mourn the ruler's death for seven days.

As for members of the royal family, he said the period of mourning would be 40 days.

Abdul Ghani said the state flag would be flown at half mast for seven days beginning tonight and all forms of entertainment and games would be cancelled throughout the royal funeral.

He also directed all mosques and surau in the state to hold 'tahlil' sessions and special prayers after the Maghrib prayers for seven days.

Meanwhile, Sultan Iskandar's remains were seen being brought to the Istana Besar at 11.22pm.

The van ferrying the sultan's remains was seen leaving the Puteri Specialists Hospital, escorted by scores of police outriders, vehicles carrying the Johor royal families, Johor state executive councillors and the Johor Military Force (JMF) vehicles.

Police personnel, JMF as well as Rela members maintained tight security at the hospital compound following the large presence of media representatives including those from Singapore as well as the general public.

The Sultan of Pahang, Sultan Ahmad Shah, Tengku Puan Pahang Tunku Hajjah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah and the Tengku Mahkota Pahang, Tengku Abdullah were among the early visitors who paid their respects.

Others who paid their respects included former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Higher Education Minister Mohamed Khaled Nordin, Chairman of the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB) Halimah Sadique and the Johor Corporation chief executive Muhammad Ali Hashim.

- Bernama

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