Get to know the 17th Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar of Johor

A new royal era


By Amanda Fung

Get to know the 17th Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar of Johor

Today (31 January 2024), Malaysia will welcome its newest Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Ibrahim ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar of Johor. His coronation comes after the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah ibni Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang stepped down following his five-year reign as the nation’s royal leader. Elected as the incumbent Yang di-Pertuan Agong by the Conference of Rulers on 27 October 2023, Sultan Ibrahim is expected to play an important part in local politics—even vowing to eradicate corruption in the government—despite holding a mostly ceremonial role officially. To get us acquainted with our new monarch, here are a few facts to know about the Johorean ruler. 



Sultan Ibrahim is the third of four children and eldest son of Sultan Iskandar ibni Almarhum Sultan Ismail and his first wife Josephine Ruby Trevorrow, also known as Kalsom binti Abdullah following her marriage to the royal. His younger sister is Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, the outgoing queen. He also has six half-siblings from his father’s second marriage to Tunku Puan Zanariah binti Almarhum Tengku Ahmad. Sultan Ibrahim himself has six children with his wife, Raja Zarith Sofiah, daughter of Sultan Idris Shah II of Perak.

He ascended to the throne in 2010 following the death of his father who had ruled the state since 1981. However, Sultan Ibrahim was only crowned the Sultan of Johor on 23 March 2015, stating that there was no rush for the customary tradition. His coronation marked the first ceremony since that of his grandfather in 1960. 



As with other royal leaders, Sultan Ibrahim has military training and holds a high-ranking position in the local military. He started his training in his teens and made his way through different training courses, racking up experience and honours with different branches of the military, both locally and internationally. 

He completed basic military training at Pusat Latihan Tentera Darat in Kota Tinggi where he was Platoon Commander. Following his time there, Sultan Ibrahim received a special invitation to participate in the Young Officers Course at Fort Benning in Georgia, United States and eventually also attended the American Special Forces Green Beret and Pathfinder Course. He currently serves as Commandant of the Johor Military Forces.

On top of his military experience, Sultan Ibrahim also worked in several offices of the State Department of Johor to further his knowledge on the intricacies of the state’s management and administration before his ascension as Sultan of Johor.



According to his official coronation website from when he was crowned Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim was a student at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston, Massachusetts, where he took classes on Southeast Asian Strategic Studies and International Laws of the Seas. Despite being equipped with a wealth of military education, Sultan Ibrahim is the only Malaysian sultan who hasn’t gone through tertiary education.



Outside of royal grounds, Sultan Ibrahim has a number of properties and investments in businesses across different industries. He owns a piece of land in Singapore’s  Tyersall Park worth around US$4 billion and is the second-largest shareholder of Berjaya Assets. As for the telecommunications sector, he owns a quarter of U Mobile. He also has shares in 7-Eleven and a private company responsible for the Forest City project in collaboration with Chinese property developer Country Garden. 



Sultan Ibrahim’s love for all things cars and motoring is evident in his avid car collecting. Along with his son, the Crown Prince of Johor, he has a formidable fleet of cars with a count upwards of 370, including antiques from the late 19th century. The most notable cars in his collection include a Bugatti Veyron supercar, a custom-built Morgan Three-Wheeler, and a Genesis G90 Limousine. On top of the supercars, motorcycles, and vintage automobiles, Sultan Ibrahim is also the proud owner of a custom big rig Mack Super-Liner Sleeper truck, just one of the few trucks he has in his collection. On top of that, he is the first Malay ruler to have a locomotive license, which he put to use when he drove the last KTM train out of Tanjong Pagar Railway Station in 2011. 

In 2012, he made waves when he won the bid for the ‘WWW1’ licence plate with a record-breaking RM520,000. Four years later in 2016, Sultan Ibrahim forked out a hefty RM836,660 for the ‘F1’ licence plate, which he eventually stuck on a Proton Perdana. In a bid to combine his love for motorcycles and Johor, Sultan Ibrahim founded the Kembara Mahkota Johor—an annual royal motorcycle tour program that doubles as a charity ride—in 2001. The royal is known to ride his trademark Harley-Davidson motorcycle adorned with tiger stripes when visiting all ten districts of Johor during the tour of the state. 



Though royals in Malaysia merely play a ceremonial role in most ways, the Sultan of Johor is seen as a symbol of stability and unity when it comes to politics and law. Current prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has been known to seek support and advice from Sultan Ibrahim and his role as a guiding voice is expected to continue into his term as Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Most notably, he has spoken out against corruption in the government, supported Malaysia-China relations, and condemned bouts of racial discrimination in the country. 



Sultan Ibrahim has issued a number of decrees during his time as Sultan of Johor, including reinstating a Friday-Saturday weekend for the public sector so Muslims in the state can attend Friday prayers. He also declared the town of Muar as Johor’s royal capital—moving it from Johor Bahru—on 5 February 2012 and even celebrated his birthday there on 22 November of that year, making him the first Johor Ruler to do so. Muar is home to Istana Tanjung, the designated Palace Stopover for the Johor Royal Family in the town. Amongst his other decrees are a ban on vapes in the state of Johor, limits on the sizes of signboards, and the renaming of several districts, including Kulaijaya which is now known as Kulai. 



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