By Haresh Deol
Ill health knows no creed or class. It doesn’t discriminate.
This has been most evident in recent weeks with the Covid-19 pandemic. The man in the street, big-time businessmen, politicians, movie stars, royalty – no one has been spared.
Even in Malaysia, Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah had to go into quarantine after several palace staff, including one of the King’s bodyguards and a chef, tested positive for the disease.
But there was no griping, no display of unhappiness or dissatisfaction by the royal couple. Instead, they did what had to be done – and more.
During the self-quarantine from March 25 to April 9, they even made their own beds and washed their own bathrooms.
An avid cook, Tunku Azizah had been preparing dishes for frontliners before the quarantine.
The isolation did not deter her from reaching out to our heroes in other ways. This she did by gifting 250 foldable beds on behalf of the royal family to several hospitals for frontliners to use.
Al-Sultan Abdullah, Tunku Azizah and their four children have remained in their own rooms even after the quarantine as a precaution, with minimal staff on call.
“There has been no interaction with the staff even after the 14-day self-quarantine. We make our own beds, wash our bathrooms, mop and vacuum our rooms. We are not complaining,” Tunku Azizah told Twentytwo13.
“In a way it’s a new-found freedom. We don’t have 20 people around us,” Tunku Azizah said in jest.
“I only greet Tuanku Sultan from afar, so we WhatsApp and call each other instead,” she added.
And it is through those WhatsApp messages and phone calls that Tunku Azizah was motivated to assist the frontliners by donating beds. And she naturally received the thumbs up from the King.
“I have a friend whose son works at a hospital and she had asked if the sofa in the royal ward could be used by the doctors. I didn’t know that particular hospital had a royal ward and after speaking to the health officials, I told them they are free to use it.”
This led to Tunku Azizah gifting the 250 beds – 100 beds to Sungai Buloh Hospital and 50 beds each to Hospital Kuala Lumpur, UIA Hospital (Kuantan) and Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital (Kuantan).
“The beds are for doctors, nurses, and frontliners. I told Tuanku Sultan about it and he told me to go ahead.”
Recently, the royal couple decided to forgo six months of their royal emolument to ease the government’s financial burden in battling the pandemic.
It is also understood that Istana Negara received some 10,000 face masks and the royal household instead distributed most of it to frontliners in hospitals and kept some for palace staff and army personnel.
“The frontliners are our unsung heroes. The Movement Control Order is needed. Tuanku Sultan and I are very concerned about Malaysians.
“Staying at home is not just about safeguarding our well-being but it’s required as we are facing a new world war against this virus. We need to come together to defeat this.”
Tunku Azizah added if she had it her way, she would love to volunteer at a hospital.
“I wish I could serve those in need. We should all be united and support the authorities in this great battle. For now, if the frontliners need more beds, just let me know and I’ll get them,” she said. – twentytwo13.my
Haresh Deol is deputy president of the NPC and editor of twentytwo13.my