PM Lee, Ho Ching receive Johor state honours from Sultan

PM Lee (far left) and Madam Ho (far right) with Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar and his wife Raja Zarith Sofiah at the Istana Besar in Johor Bahru. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
PM Lee and Madam Ho at the banquet with Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar and his wife Raja Zarith Sofiah at the Istana Besar in Johor Bahru. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong received Johor's highest state honour from Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar on Friday (May 6), in recognition of the longstanding close and strong relations between Singapore and Johor.

Sultan Ibrahim said: "Johor and Singapore, since time immemorial, have enjoyed a special relationship. Today's special investiture in honour of the Singapore Premier is a tangible manifestation of our close friendship and deepening ties.

"I wish to thank the Prime Minister for his continuing efforts to strengthen our close and strong relations," the Sultan added, in remarks to the Royal Press Office published on his Facebook page after the award investiture ceremony at the Istana Besar in Johor Bahru.

PM Lee was 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, created in 1886, is the oldest order given by any state of Malaysia. 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.

PM Lee said in a Facebook post that he was deeply honoured to receive Johor’s highest honour.

“Johor is a key gateway between Singapore and Malaysia, and both share a special relationship. I’m glad we have moved decisively into living with Covid-19 and resumed our links, so people can cross the Causeway to reconnect with families and friends, like I did today,” he added. 

PM Lee also said he looked forward to hosting Sultan Ibrahim during his official visit to Singapore later this year.

The collar of the order in gilt and red enamel is made up of links in the form of crescent and stars, bows and the cyphers in Arabic of Prophet Muhammad's principal disciples and companions, and the back link is the design of a crown.

The front device supported by two golden tigers is the name of the prophet in Arabic, surmounted by a crown and flanked by the mace of religion on the right and the mace of the universe on the left, with a blue scroll below bearing the motto of the order.

The breast star is made of silver designed with five flame-like rays with gold crescents and stars between the rays. The centre of the breast star is encircled by a blue garter bearing the motto of the order and consists of a white field with a crown, the name of the prophet in Arabic and the crescent and star in the centre.

A wide silk sash in yellow with a broad blue centre stripe, and a sash badge of similar design as the breast star, complete the order.

The crown denotes Abu Bakar as sovereign and chief of the order, blue is the colour of the sovereign, white signifies purity and subservience to Allah, yellow is the traditional colour of Malay royalty, and red and the image of tigers reflect courage and bravery.

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Madam Ho Ching was also given a state honour, and was 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.

London jeweller David McCarty was commissioned by the Sultan to make the embellishments of the order based on Islamic philosophies and designed by the Sultan.

(From left) The Dato’ Sri Paduka Mahkota Johor and Dato’ Sri Mulia Mahkota Johor awards conferred to PM Lee and Madam Ho respectively. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The insignia consists of a collar, a breast star, a sash, and neck and sash badges.

The front device consists of Prophet Muhammad's name in Arabic in red enamel and supported by stylised gambier leaves and pepper berries, and flanked by the sceptre of religion on its right and the sceptre of the universe on its left. The device is surmounted by a crown, and a blue scroll below bearing the motto of the order.

Also at the investiture were the Permaisuri of Johor Raja Zarith Sofiah, Crown Prince of Johor Tunku Ismail Ibrahim and Che' Puan Besar Khaleeda, as well as other members of the Johor royal family.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong received Johor's highest state honour from Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar on May 6, 2022. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION OF SINGAPORE
Madam Ho Ching received Johor's state honour from Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar on May 6, 2022. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION OF SINGAPORE

After the presentation of state honours, PM Lee and Madam Ho were hosted to an official brunch by Sultan Ibrahim. Members of the Johor royal family and the royal court, as well as Johor Menteri Besar Onn Hafiz Ghazi and state government representatives, were also present.

Other Singapore guests included 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.

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