PM Lee and Ho Ching to receive royal honours from Johor Sultan

In a photo from Nov 25, 2019, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Madam Ho Ching attend the welcome dinner of the Asean-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit in Busan. PHOTO: MCI

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will receive Johor's highest state honour from Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar, while his wife, Madam Ho Ching, will receive a state award, at an investiture ceremony in Johor on Friday (May 6).

PM Lee and Madam Ho will visit the state to attend the ceremony, which will be held at the Istana Besar in Johor Bahru, said the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in a statement on Thursday.

PM Lee will be conferred the title of Dato' Sri Paduka Mahkota Johor, or SPMJ for short, which means Grand Commander of the Order of the Crown of Johor, First Class.

The order of chivalry is the oldest order given by any state of Malaysia, and was instituted in 1886 based on the English Order of St Michael and St George.

According to information provided by Johor Royal Court Council president Abdul Rahim Ramli, then Johor Sultan Abu Bakar had commissioned the order to honour and appreciate the services and contributions of his loyal officers, as well as to reciprocate the conferment of honour and privileges accorded to him by the royal courts of Europe.

The order consists of the Sovereign and three designated classes of membership - Grand Commander, Commander and Companion - and is traditionally given to "Malays professing the religion of Islam and subjects of the ruler and who have exhibited loyalty, virtues, and talents and have rendered invaluable service to the Sultan and state".

It is also given to "Malays from other states, and other races whether subjects of the ruler or otherwise and who meet the criteria", who may be invited as honorary members.

Previous Singapore recipients include then prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and then law minister E. W. Barker, who were given the award in 1984, and then prime minister Goh Chok Tong, who was given the award in 1991.

Meanwhile, Madam Ho will be the first Singaporean to be conferred the title of Dato' Sri Mulia Sultan Ibrahim Johor, or SMIJ for short. It means Grand Commander of the Order of Sultan Ibrahim of Johor, First Class.

The personal order of chivalry was commissioned by Sultan Ibrahim in 2015 to commemorate his coronation, and comprises the Sovereign and three designated classes of membership - Grand Commander, Commander and Companion.

The order is given to "Malays professing the religion of Islam and subjects of His Majesty, and who have exhibited loyalty, virtues, and talents, and have rendered invaluable service to the Sultan and state".

The Sultan can also invite and confer the order to foreign people whom he deems to be fit and proper, and who would do the honour to accept and join the order.

PM Lee and Madam Ho will be accompanied by Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam, and officials from the PMO and the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs and Communications and Information, said the PMO.

After the presentation of state honours on Friday, Sultan Ibrahim will host an official brunch in honour of PM Lee and Madam Ho.

Members of the Johor royal family and the royal court, as well as Johor state government representatives, will attend the proceedings.

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