JOHOR BARU - The Istana Pasir Pelangi grounds here was a sea of people who came from all over the state to pledge their loyalty to the Sultan of Johor and his royal household.
The clouds gave way to sunny skies as the masses marched toward the palace with banners proclaiming their love for their Ruler, amid shouts of Daulat Tuanku, yesterday.
The mammoth gathering, organised by non-governmental organisations and the Johor Umno Youth, was held in the wake of criticisms over the successful bidding by Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar for the WWW 1 car registration plate.
Former Perak mentri besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin had raised a storm when he tweeted that the RM520,000 (S$212,888) bidding price could have been better used to meet the needs of the poor.
Defending his father, Tunku Mahkota Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim counter-tweeted, saying that the money allotted to him and the Sultan every month went towards the Yayasan Iskandar and Yayasan Ibrahim funds to meet the social and welfare obligations of the two foundations.
He said neither he nor his father had taken a sen from the Government.
Sultan Ibrahim was visibly touched by the support. "To me, the rakyat is my responsibility and my wish is to see my subjects unite as one.
"I will never forget this historic moment and, from the bottom of my heart, I thank each and everyone of my subjects who came here," said the Sultan, who unveiled his orange custom-made Proton Satria Neo with the WWW 1 number plate.
"Without the rakyat, there would be no Ruler," he said, adding that the huge turnout was "the voice of the people".
Later, giving his critics a royal rebuke, he said: "Engage your brain before shooting your mouth."
Meanwhile, one of his princes, Tunku Abdul Jalil Iskandar Sultan Ibrahim said he was amazed at the size of the crowd.
"I could hear people screaming Daulat Tuanku from the istana's balcony."