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Updated January 31st, 2024 at 20:59 IST

Malaysia's New King: An Outspoken Billionaire Worth $5.7bn, Owns 300 Luxury Cars, Private Army

The tycoon Sultan is worth staggering $5.7 billion, he dons a collection of over 300 luxury cars and motorbikes, including one famously gifted by Adolf Hitler.

Zaini Majeed
Malaysia King Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar
The billionaire sultan who rules Malaysia’s Johor state was sworn in as the nation’s new king. | Image:AP
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Malaysia, on Wednesday, sworn in the motorbike riding billionaire Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar as the country’s King or Yang di Pertuan Agong [He Who is Made Lord]. Iskandar, who hails from southern Johor state bordering Singapore and possesses a vast and extensive business empire, ascended to the throne on Jan. 31 for a five-year term.

His coronation was largely ceremonial as his election was not only expected but highly anticipated by Malaysians.

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Istiadat Melafaz dan Menandatangani Surat Sumpah Jawatan Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong Ke-17 yang berlangsung dalam mesyuarat Majlis Raja-Raja Ke-264 (Khas), di Balairung Seri, Istana Negara pada hari ini, 31 Januari 2024. Allah Peliharakan Sultan. pic.twitter.com/ZpxVuUOwtM

— HRH Crown Prince of Johor (@HRHJohorII) January 31, 2024

Iskandar, the billionaire monarch, was next in line to the throne based on Malaysia’s rotation order established amongst nine rulers that is adhered to since Malaysia gained independence from Britain in 1957.

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Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, front center, sits during the oath taking ceremony as the Malaysia’s 17th king at the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024. (Mohd Rasfan/Pool Photo via AP)

The tycoon Sultan is worth staggering $5.7 billion, he dons a collection of over 300 luxury cars and motorbikes, including one famously gifted by the Nazi ruler of the WWII Adolf Hitler. The then ruler was acquaintance of one of his predecessors. Iskandar was proclaimed to the throne in a ceremony at the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur on January 31.

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He owns a fleet of private jets with distinctive gold and blue Boeing 737, vast real estate empire that transcends Malaysia’s borders, mining, telecommunication, palm oil sectors, in addition to commanding own private army, as per Bloomberg’s estimates. He was in limelight for a multibillion-dollar Forest City development project in collaboration with China's beleaguered developer Country Garden in Johor. He has been staunchly advocating for special economic zone between Johor and Singapore. He also plans to restart the long stalled high-speed rail project between Malaysia and the city-state.

Istiadat Melafaz dan Menandatangani Surat Sumpah Jawatan Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong Ke-17 di Istana Negara. Allah Peliharakan Sultan. pic.twitter.com/3co683fiM5

— HRH Crown Prince of Johor (@HRHJohorII) January 31, 2024

Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, left, salutes the guard of honor and the military band perform during a welcoming ceremony of the 17th King of Malaysia. (AP)

King Iskandar's investments total $588 million

The newly crowned King reportedly holds an estimated 24% stake in U Mobile, a major Malaysian cell service provider, $4 billion worth of land in Singapore which includes the expansive Tyersall Park located in proximity to the Botanic Gardens.as well as investments totaling $588 million in both private and public companies. He is known to play a pivotal role on Malaysia’s economy having links with the wealthiest and top Chinese developers that has influence on country’s foreign policies.

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Malaysia’s new monarch defends his multi-billion empire arguing that he 'earns a living, like ordinary Malaysians.’ The King stressed that he is unable to survive on 27,000 ringgit (£4,500) monthly state allowance.

Sultan Ibrahim dons a high corporate profile. (AP)

Iskandar succeeded highly influential incumbent Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah. The latter is the head of the royal household of Pahang, and the newly crowned King’s brother-in-law who ascended throne in 2019. Abdullah was crowned following sudden abdication of Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan over two months leave of absence.

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“His Majesty has officially conveyed this [decision to abdicate] to the Malay rulers via a letter issued to the secretary of the Conference of Rulers,” a statement issued by the palace then, read.

Sultan Ibrahim signing a document at the oath taking ceremony. (AP)

Syed Danial, the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal, in a statement officially announced Iskandar’s pick, saying that the Conference of Rulers “in its 263rd meeting [today] agreed to promulgate that Sultan Ibrahim of Johor has been picked as the 17th Yang di Pertuan Agong, for a term of five years from Jan. 31, 2024.”

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In an interview with a Singaporean broadcaster, the 65 year old said that he wasn’t keen on becoming the country’s ‘puppet king,’ also indicating that his would be a hands-on approach in ruling whilst combating the political corruption and forging unity.

Sultan Ibrahim declared Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, or He Who is Made Lord. (AP)

“There’re 222 of you [lawmakers] in parliament. There’re over 30 million [population] outside. I’m not with you, I’m with them,” he was quoted as saying in Singaporean broadsheet.“I will support the government, but if I think they are doing something improper, I will tell them.”  It is speculated that the newly sworn in King will bolster the rule of the incumbent Prime Minister Anwar. The latter was pardoned in 2018 by monarch Muhammad V. He was imprisoned on sodomy and corruption charges that he labelled as “politically motivated.”

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Published January 31st, 2024 at 20:55 IST

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