Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Kembara Mahkota 2008..

Once every year for the past 10 years, the Tengku Mahkota of Johor Tengku Ibrahim Ibni Sultan Iskandar leads 30 Harley riders and 20 vehicles on a tour of the rural areas.

The four-day Kembara has evolved into an integral "mesra" programme to which villagers look forward for that is when they get to meet the Tengku Mahkota and his consort, Raja Zarith Sofiah and their children.

This year, I was invited by Raja Zarith to be part of her entourage in the Kembara. She usually accompanies the Tengku Mahkota on the first day. This time, the first day (Thursday, July 24), took us to Ulu Tebrau, Pontian, Batu Pahat and Muar.

The Tengku Mahkota's visit is the highlight for these villagers who make elaborate plans for their royal guests such as "taking part" in cookery competitions including food-tasting.

It is also an opportunity for the district offices to have the Tengku Mahkota present aids to the less fortunate such as bicycles for children and cash for the disabled and the poor.

The royal couple and their children -- this time Tengku Aminah, Tengku Abdul Rahman and Tengku Abu Bakar accompanied them -- joined the villagers for "minum pagi", lunch and "minum petang".

You can see and feel the excitement in the air.

I spoke to the villagers. And how their day was made!

But really, it is as much an exciting and thrilling affair for the Tengku Mahkota, Raja Zarith and their family.

It is something they all look forward to.

The Kembara Mahkota, however, is no walk in the park. Riding through the Johor countryside rain or sun, all day, is pretty gruelling. And for the non-riding participants, it can be tiring.

In the morning at Istana Pasir Pelangi before the launch (which was at Bukit Timbalan), the Tengku Mahkota personally made sure everything was in order.

(I have to go now. I will write more with the interviews and photos. And also how Johor Chief Police Officer Mokhtar Mohd Shariff was "pulled aside" by a disabled Bangladeshi who claimed that his former employer (Felda in Ulu Tebrau) had abandoned him. Now, I don't know Mokhtar, and unless he was pretending, he really seemed genuinely concerned and made sure his officer, Hasani Husain took down every word from the Bangladeshi, Mohd Syed Husain so that the police could find a way fo helping.)


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Anonymous said...

My how lucky ......wish more royalties are like this . Maybe they did ....?

Wishing the MPs are like this too ..not once a year though ......

You take care there .......Do enjoy yrself ......

Anonymous said...

What the royalty is doing is noteworthy. Meeting the rakyat on their own turf is a great PR exercise.

Perhaps too, the Royalties should also do the same to rescue the nation from the political power-brokers who are bankrupting the country.

In this day and time, our respected Royalty cannot anymore say that they are above politics.

Rockybru said...


The Kembara is grueling. Anyone who thinks it's like watching a fashion show is wrong. Take my word for it, I thought it was a walk in the park.

It rained all morning yesterday. I was soaked! Someone bought me a raincoat in one of the towns and that helped. Today, with raincoat ready, the sun was blazing away. I am red like a bbq lobster. I never liked convoys, you know that. It is against my riding style. But the experience has changed my views about certain things. One of them is about how the ordinary Johorean views and treats the kerabat. In one town before Labis, the TMJ made an unscheduled stop. The shopkeepers and the town folk rushed towards him, shook his hands, and chatted with him. The Chinese shopkeepers told him their problems and asked about the TMJ's father, the Sultan.

I come from a state without Sultan (Melaka) and grew up in Singapore (also no Sultan). Johor has always been sandwiched by my belief that perhaps the Palace and kerabat are a waste of time and money,

But look around. With the Iskandar issue and Pedra Branca (and Singapore's EEZ claim), and our weak politicians, perhaps the Palace may give that push for Johor politicians to stand up and be counter. Maybe not. Let's see ..

Already, we have Perak's Prince Nazrin, a favourite of many. We have Perlis and Terengganu, whose Palaces have gone against the Fed Govt and won.

Srikanth Siva said...

I dont like far only Perak royalty has my seal of approval.

Pak Zawi said...

Can't wait to read more of your takes on the Kembara TMJ. Saw on TV the Kembara to the islands off Johore. At least the State and Federal Government will get to see the inadequacies of the facilities on such remote islands via the Kembara. TMJ can't be dictated to go to where he doesn't want to go. He will stop where he wants to stop though it was never in the program.

the Razzler said...

Wow!! how lucky!! :) :)

Too bad th entourage didn't go to my hometown!! :( :(

tarings said...

So you got to see Pontian eh. Them kampungs are nice. Still. But those muncipal morons had totally destroyed the town with poor planning.

I'm not so sure about 'excitement in the air' part. Are they genuine? Maybe them kampung folks were really thrilled by the royal presense. A break from their monotonic hardship. Or maybe they are the lucky ones. Have you ever been to a kampung where the nearest paved roads are kilometres away? Gravel paths barely ten feet wide, muddy during them monsoon and dusty during the dry seasons. Not unlike those in the Sarawak interior. So much for Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor. These kampung folks won't have the time for events.

But I have to give it to them royalties. At least they tour the state every year. Trying to get to know the people and their lives, whether staged or otherwise notwithstanding. Them politicians? A month or so before elections.


hi folks,

i'm having problems downloading photos from my canon.

still trying, though!

Anonymous said...

just wondering, hmmn who is footing the bill for all this? Hope its from the istana treasury.

Anonymous said...

srikanth said "I dont like far onl Perak royalty has my seal of approval"

i don't want to disappoint you. But Perakians are not proud of their Raja. I won't go into details...but ask around and you'll know.

When you sayt Perak royalty, I suppose you must mean Raja Nazrin.

Why? Bbecause of the high-faluting speeches he made.

Don't be fooled.

Now, don't let the little bubble burst. But, it is common knowledge that Raja Nazrin doesn't have any contact with the rakyat. If he visits the kampung -- which is oh so rare -- and meals are served, all the cockery and cutlery are brought from the palace because...well, your guess is as good as mine.

As for me... I don't look at whether you blood is blue or whatever....

but what you are as a person.