Billionaire sultan challenges Malaysia polo team to a face-off on who’s the best
By Agence France-Presse
A powerful Malaysian royal has thrown down the gauntlet to the country’s sports minister and his Southeast Asian Games polo side, telling him: “If you’re a man, play against the Johor team.”
Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar of Johor, one of Malaysia’s richest state rulers, insisted the national polo team, which features Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, were far inferior to his own.
“I challenge the SEA Games polo team to come to Johor and show your fangs since news of your greatness supersedes you,” he said, in a statement issued on Thursday.
“I will send two of my sons and two of our horse trainers or perhaps myself, as I believe I still have what it takes,” added the 58-year-old.
“Should my team lose, I will admit that the SEA Games team are represented by the best there is.”
Khairy, a favourite on social media where he is nicknamed ‘Daddy’, has been prominent at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games and gave the main speech at the opening ceremony for the mini-Olympics.
But Sultan Ibrahim, who maintains his own private army in his southern state of Johor, accused Khairy of asking a team-mate to be injured so he could play in Malaysia’s 13-2 win over Singapore.
“So there’s a photo of him in the team to be featured in the print media and spread the propaganda to cheat people as if he was victorious and reliable,” the sultan said.
There was no immediate response from Khairy, who earlier collided with royalty when he was knocked off his horse by Brunei’s Prince Abdul Mateen during Malaysia’s 12-4 win over the visitors.
Horse-riding royals have been a feature of the Games, as Malaysia’s Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, 55, won equestrian endurance gold and Thailand’s Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana took silver in the team dressage event.
Brunei heart-throb Prince Mateen was mobbed by screaming fans, mostly female, when he took to the polo field alongside his sister, Princess Azemah. (AFP)