Sultan Ibrahim waving to the public during the Kembara Mahkota Johor in front of Bangunan Sultan Abu Bakar in Muar.
Kembara Mahkota Johor, which is an annual tour has broken the barrier between Johor's royalty and the people.
Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar standing in front of a custom made bus for the 17th Kembara Mahkota Johor organised between June 21 and June 24, last year.

"RAJA dan Rakyat Berpisah Tiada" (the Ruler and His Subjects are Inseparable) is the perfect quote to describe the Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar's relationship with his subjects.

This adage is best embodied by the Kembara Mahkota Johor (KMJ), an annual tour, which began in 2001, in which Sultan Ibrahim visits his subjects in all 10 districts in the state.

The KMJ, the brainchild of Sultan Ibrahim, has used several different modes of transportation and various other innovative methods to reach out to his subjects.

For example, he has used big bikes, including the locally made Modenas, boats, especially to reach his subjects that live on the islands bordering the state, a train and in the recent tour, a coach.

The ruler owns driver's licences for all types of vehicles, except the necessary licence to operate a submarine.

In the early editions of the KMJ, Sultan Ibrahim rode a specially-designed Harley Davidson Road King with the Southern Tiger stripes on it.

The Harley Davidson was picked as the vehicle of choice as it was easier to use it to access narrow roads and better if he wanted to make any impromptu stopovers to meet his subjects.

On these convoys, Sultan Ibrahim distributes basic necessities to assist in alleviating the people's burden.

Donations are also made to the management of houses of worship for them to conduct upgrading works.

The ruler puts aside protocol and gets his hands dirty with cleaning and painting of mosques and other houses of worship.

In many ways, the annual tour has broken the barrier between Johor's royalty and the people.

Johoreans relish the opportunity to meet and mingle with Sultan Ibrahim, his consort Raja Zarith Sofiah Sultan Idris Shah and their children Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail, Tunku Temenggong Johor Tunku Idris, Tunku Laksamana Johor Tunku Abdul Jalil, Tunku Panglima Johor Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tunku Putera Johor Tunku Abu Bakar, and their only daughter Tunku Tun Johor Tunku Tun Aminah.

This is why the KMJ has become a highly anticipated event in Johor's calendar as thousands will turn up, to catch a glimpse of the royal family, take pictures with them and talk to them.

Sultan Ibrahim uses the opportunity afforded to him by the KMJ to check on the state's development and follow up on the works that he had advised the relevant agencies to improve upon, especially infrastructure and facilities that benefit of his subjects.

The people have benefited from the annual tour, which reinforces their loyalty to the royal family whom they keep close to their hearts.

Komoco Trading Pte Ltd commercial manager, Omar Noordin said he has been involved in KMJ since its inaugural edition in 2001.

The company is an Approved Permit holder to import luxury vehicles namely Ferraris, Mercedes-Benz, Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler and also Harley Davidsons.

"When I first met Sultan Ibrahim, he had an idea to organise a motorcycle tour to meet his subjects. He told me a ruler is akin to an umbrella for the people.

"He has the responsibility of providing shelter to his people, thus he must be on the ground to understand their needs."

Sultan Ibrahim told Omar that during the feudal age, the king or crown prince rode on an elephant to travel all over the state for the same reasons as were being done in the KMJ.

"I was tasked with the responsibility of designing a motorcycle that would best represent Johor and would remembered by the people, thus the Southern Tiger's stripes.

"Sultan Ibrahim did not want or approve any modifications to his Road King's engine, but cosmetic modifications were fine," said Umar, who is a Harley Davidson enthusiast and has been part of the KMJ convoy since its first tour.

He admitted that handling the 1,600cc 370kg Road King was not easy, especially when the rider has to travel over 1,000km in four days and three nights.

"A less-experienced rider will not have the stamina or skill for it. Sultan Ibrahim is very skilled. He has always reminded us to practice caution to avoid any untoward incidents.

"'It is a joyful event to meet my subjects,' Sultan Ibrahim would tell us. 'So let's ensure that we are all safe,' is his constant reminder for those in his convoy.

"Sultan Ibrahim will also recite a prayer prior to the journey," Umar said.

 

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