While a political storm has been brewing in Malaysia over the past few days with rumours of a backdoor coalition attempting to take over the Government, one ray of sunshine Malaysian netizens have latched on to is their King, Al-Sultan Abdullah Riayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.
The “kind” and “caring” monarch – as he has been described on social media – is already incredibly popular for his humility, which includes habits like stopping the royal motorcade to help accident victims and queuing up to buy his own fast food.
Now, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is winning hearts all over again in the current political saga with his kind actions toward those involved.
“As a child growing up, I’ve always heard the phrase raja berjiwa rakyat (the soul of the people),” wrote a Twitter user named Adlin Yusman. “With our current Agong, I finally get to experience how it feels like to live through it.”
Another by the handle @Mzulhilmi90 called him “one of the best Kings in the world right now”, while a third named Azidi Aziz added: “(We have) such a good-hearted King and Queen.”
Here’s three things the King did that won him new fans:
1. He bought McDonalds, KFC and Milo for journalists – and brought some to them personally
Instead of ignoring the 50-odd reporters camping outside his front door to interview politicians who had sought audiences with His Majesty, the King arranged for a KFC dinner to be delivered to them on Feb 24.
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24 Februari 2020 – Pengamal media yang bertugas membuat liputan di Istana Negara hari ini menerima kurniaan makanan KFC dari Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Setiausaha Sulit Kanan kepada Yang di-Pertuan Agong Kolonal Datuk Nazim Mohd Alim bersama pegawai-pegawai Istana Negara menyampaikan sumbangan makanan tersebut kepada semua petugas media di luar pintu utama, pintu 2 dan pintu 3 Istana Negara. Menjunjung kasih Tuanku #agongkita
The following morning, he organised another delivery of McDonald’s for breakfast, which he brought to the gates himself. He even spent a few minutes talking to reporters while munching on fries, adding “Sedap! (delicious) I’m hungry“.
On Wednesday (Feb 26), he had Palace attendants bring out 40 plush chairs for journalists to sit on, so they would not have to stand while waiting outside the gates.
He also summoned in a Milo truck to serve them cold drinks, and catered patin tempoyak (fish with fermented durian) for lunch.
— Daniel Emir (@ConquerDaniel) February 26, 2020
Sebanyak 40 buah kerusi dan tiga meja makan disediakan oleh pihak istana bagi memudahkan urusan media yang menunggu di pintu 2 Istana Negara sejak pagi tadi pic.twitter.com/uAdhZUGMQv
— BERNAMA (@bernamadotcom) February 26, 2020
Today, the members of the media covering the leadership crisis are treated with Patin Tempoyak for lunch. The lunch packs were handed out by Dato' Pengelola Bijaya Diraja Dato' Ahmad Fadil Haji Shamsuddin outside the National Palace gate. pic.twitter.com/b7VRATqjlS
— House Of Pahang (@HouseOfPahang) February 26, 2020
2. He invited reporters into the Istana – and waived the dress code
While etiquette dictates those visiting the Istana Negara need to be attired in traditional wear or lounge suits, Malay Mail reported that the King bent the rules and allowed journalists into the building without a dress code requirement.
They were there to attend a special media briefing by the Comptroller of the Royal Family and Household – the first time in history the Palace had ever held one.
In an unprecedented move, Istana Negara has invited members of the media into the compound for a briefing, without needing to observe the formal dress code. pic.twitter.com/eAunx0Fe3I
— TheMalaysianInsight (@msianinsight) February 25, 2020
3. He decided to interview all 222 MPs, instead of holding a general election that could cost Malaysia RM600 million
In a move described by state media portal Bernama as “unprecedented“, the King announced on Feb 25 that he would conduct one-on-one interviews with every member of Parliament, each lasting two-minutes long, to hear their views on who they supported as the next Prime Minister.
Typically, when there is no party or coalition with a Parliamentary majority, the King – who appoints the PM – might speak with party leaders to assess who has majority support and is suitable to be appointed.
No King has ever interviewed all MPs personally.
Bernama quoted several MPs as saying that the King had asked whether if they preferred to appoint a new PM or dissolve Parliament.
Al-Sultan Abdullah said on Tuesday (Feb 25) that he hoped he could “find the best solution” to the current situation.
“Let me do my duties… I hope we will find the best solution for the country,” Bernama reported him as saying. “We are very concerned.”
In a separate report, Bernama quoted political analyst Prof Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani as saying that the King could have picked easier methods to deal with the situation, such as calling a general election. However, this could cost Malaysia an estimated RM600 million.
He could also have consulted the Conference of Rulers, Professor Azizuddin added. However, this would take time, and the current method best respected the people’s mandate.