PETALING JAYA: Muhammad Ridhwan Sulaiman (picture) carries a “Datuk Seri” title given to him by the so-called Sulu sultanate, a claimant to the controversial throne said.
Muedzul Lail Tan Kiram said he bestowed the title upon Muhammad Ridhwan after his “coronation” on Sept 16 last year.
“I conferred the title to him as an honour because he has helped my people,” Muedzul said from Manila Tuesday, according to a Star online report.
He said Muhammad Ridhwan gave money generously to support his programmes to alleviate poverty among his people, including for hospitalisation and religious activities.
“To our people, he is like a hero. He was a bridge between Malaysia and the Suluk,” added Muedzul, who lives on Sulu island.
He said he did not agree with the actions of Jamalul Kiram III, another claimant to the Sulu throne, who sent armed men to Sabah to reclaim it as their territory.
Muhammad Ridhwan, 48, is president of the Al-Ehsan Islamiah charity foundation based in Penang.
He has been detained under the Security Ordinance and Security Measures Act 2012 after turning himself in to police over the incursions in Sabah.
In BUTTERWORTH, Muhammad Ridhwan’s family said he did not support terrorists, insisting his dealings with Muedzul were “purely business”.
Nur Rina Abdullah, 39, said her husband, a Kubang Pasu Umno division member, got to know the self-styled sultan six months ago.
“My husband was looking for investment opportunities for Al-Ehsan Islamiah. So, he wanted to explore the virgin coconut oil business and decided to tap its potential in Sulu Island, which has ample supply of coconuts,” she said at their home in Taman Inderawasih in Prai yesterday.
She said her husband, a Hindu known as Ravindran Subramaniam Nair before his father and their entire family converted to Islam about 20 years ago, once ran a legal firm in Kuala Lumpur.
Nur Rina said they later moved to Penang and started a banana leaf restaurant in Bandar Baru Air Itam on the island.
She said the venture failed and Muhammad Ridhwan, who was born in Taiping, set up another legal firm in George Town in 2008.
She joined him as a field officer while their son Muhammad Danish Nair, 22, was the firm’s customer service officer.
The couple have four other children, with the youngest aged 14.
“We understand the police need to conduct necessary investigations, but we pray that he will be released soon,” she said. – The Star