News analysis

Malaysia's royals not spared public fury

Dissent rising amid population's growing desperation over Covid-19 crisis

A portrait of Malaysia's King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, above a road leading to his home state of Pahang. The ruler appears to have heard his subjects and has taken the rare step of summoning the leaders of all major political parties for audience
A portrait of Malaysia's King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, above a road leading to his home state of Pahang. The ruler appears to have heard his subjects and has taken the rare step of summoning the leaders of all major political parties for audiences in the coming week on defeating the pandemic. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Two weeks ago, state news agency Bernama shared pictures of Malaysia's Queen, Tunku Azizah Iskandar, and the cupcakes she served to medical frontliners overworked from dealing with the deepening Covid-19 pandemic.

Critics immediately lampooned the gesture, referencing the well-known phrase "Let them eat cake" attributed to Marie Antoinette, France's last queen before its revolution at the end of the 18th century. Others said her Van Cleef & Arpels necklace, purportedly worth RM250,000 (S$80,360), could aid frontliners better.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2021, with the headline 'Malaysia's royals not spared public fury'. Subscribe