Selangor Sultan: I’m on Rakyat’s side

Ruler plays down talk linking him to any political party, saying he only has the people’s interest at heart.

The Star

Q&A with the Sultan of Selangor

THE Sultan of Selangor, by his own admission, is certainly more cautious with his words and speeches of late. He goes through the draft of speeches with a fine-toothed comb, sometimes taking up to two weeks, to ensure the message he wants to deliver does not come across as taking sides with any political party. Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah tells WONG CHUN WAI and LOONG MENG YEE that the only team he wants to be on is that of the rakyat.

Disinterested in politics: The Sultan of Selangor speaking with Star Publications (M) Bhd executive director and group chief editor Wong during the exclusive interview. Disinterested in politics: The Sultan of Selangor speaking with Star Publications (M) Bhd executive director and group chief editor Wong during the exclusive interview.

> Tuanku, with the general election season, it must be difficult to express your views but yet, be fearful what you say will be misinterpreted by irresponsible parties.

It is very difficult, the speeches I prepare, I will go through them many times, write and rewrite again. I want to be specific, but unfortunately, some will twist my words to say I am on the side of such and such a party; or that I am hitting out at such and such a party.

For instance, in a speech I made to university students, I stressed the importance of respect for our Malaysian flag as some people wanted to change it easily. This is the symbol of our national sovereignty. In some countries, people are willing to die for their flag. Malays, Indians, Chinese, we should be proud of our flag. But, some blogs twist my words, to say I am supporting a certain political party with my statement. Maybe some do not like Rulers who speak up.

> There are some wild accusations that Tuanku is partial to Umno.

Why should I be? I have nothing to gain from siding with Umno, PKR or any other party.

I have known Najib’s (Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) father for a long time. I have known Najib and his brothers from their younger days. I cannot cut ties and make enemies with him now.

But, I am clear where I stand. For instance, no politician, not even Najib, can use mosques for politics in Selangor.

Those who brand me an Umno man, prove it. Show me proof that I am inclined to be with Umno. Do not blindly accuse me of things I am not guilty of. I have no political agenda. As the head of the state, I am above politics.

> Tuanku has stressed that politics must be kept out of mosques as well. You have recently met with the imams (heads of congregrations) to reiterate your stand.

Yes, mosques should unite the congregation, not sow hatred. But, some imams are still stubborn. I warn them, but I do not want them to be jobless either. They must know the right thing to do.

In churches and temples, too, my advice is pray for unity. Pray that our country will be harmonious, be thankful that we are free from natural calamities. Be united with one another. Look, many other countries are suffering there are natural and economic setbacks.

In Malaysia, thank God, we are free from all those superstorms. Be grateful and remain united as a nation. Always keep the good name of Malaysia.

> What will be Tuanku’s advice to politicians out campaigning during the general election? Both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat want Selangor as their jewel in the crown.

When campaigning, do not hurt people’s feelings. I am sure my rakyat are not stupid. Be calm, do not disrupt the racial harmony. And, after the elections, I say this sincerely, let us work together to move forward for a better life and I am sure the rakyat will feel the same way.

> There is the impression that Shah Alam must not have entertainment.

In the past, the development of Shah Alam was on a much smaller scale. My father did not wish to have cinemas in Shah Alam because of the small population and he did not want students here to spend too much time in cinemas. My father also did not want cinemas near the state mosque. Likewise, if anyone asks me, I will also not approve of having cinemas near places of worship of other religions, too. Places of prayer must be respected.

But now, Shah Alam is developing much wider. I have no objection to having cinemas in areas in Setia Alam, Bukit Jelutong or I-City; as long as they are away from the mosques and located at shopping malls. But, the approval comes from Shah Alam City Hall, I only provide my input.

> Water remains a stand-off issue between the state and Federal Government, even as Tuanku publicly raised your concern two years ago over the danger of an imminent water crisis if the inter-state raw water transfer was not resolved fast.

I have repeatedly written letters to both the state and Federal governments. They know my stand, they know I do not wish to have my subjects become the biggest losers when the taps run dry. I also do not want the existing industries in Selangor to move out because of this issue.

> Cases of snatch thieves, robberies and burglaries continue to worry many. Some say they fear the streets are no longer safe although police are doing all they can to combat crime.

Even my sister was a victim of snatch theft and my brother had his house robbed. I feel CCTVs can be a helpful tool in reducing crime. I did ask the police when I was in England, and they replied such a system was even better than alarms because CCTV recordings can be used as proof of crime.

But do not install CCTVs that will later break down frequently. That will defeat the purpose. Learn from countries that have successfully used CCTVs to reduce crime. Perhaps developers can help by contributing the units to the police as well. The state government must seriously look into this matter.

> It has been another busy year for Tuanku. Last year around this time, Tuanku was excited over the unveiling of the Raja Tun Uda library, which has now become a gem in Shah Alam. Any other people’s project under Tuanku’s supervision?

I am very pleased with how the library turned out. Some have said it is the best in the country and there are many users. There have been generous donations of books as well and I am very appreciative.

For this year, I have created a small football museum at the compound of the main palace, the Alam Shah palace in Klang.

The state has produced so many football greats in the past. There is so much to show and tell. It has been my intention, for the past 20 years, to have a proper sports museum in the state.

The ideal location will be near the stadium in Shah Alam. People from all over the country come here to watch the football games. The games start in the evening, but some arrive in the morning. If there is a museum, they can spend their time at the museum first.

> As 2012 draws to a close, Tuanku’s wish for 2013?

I hope and pray, really, that next year will be good for all of us. And, whoever governs the state, be nice, work with all to develop the state so that the rakyat can improve the quality of their lives.