MALAYSIA’S newly-installed King, Sultan Muhammad V, on Monday made a call for national unity amid a backdrop of divisive politics brewing from racial tensions in the multi-ethnic country.
In his Royal Address, the King said it was proven that Malaysians of diverse races, religions, culture and way of life are able to live together in peace, harmony and mutual respect, The Star reported.
“This has been the source of our uniqueness and strength all this while,” he was quoted as saying during his coronation ceremony to mark the formal commencement as the Supreme Head of the Federation.
For the next five years, Sultan Muhammad V will be known as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong under the country’s unique rotation system in appointing a King, in line with the Southeast Asian country’s practice of constitutional monarchy.
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As the nation observes a public holiday for the occasion, some 800 guests, including Malay rulers and their consorts, Prime Minister Najib Razak, and other dignitaries, witnessed a colourful and glorious coronation ceremony at Istana Negara, the nation’s grand palace in Kuala Lumpur where the Sultan took his Oath of Installation as the sound of trumpets and the beating of drums by the Gendang Besar D’Raja Kelantan band reverberated in the Balairong Seri (Throne Hall).
According to Astro Awani (via national news agency Bernama), the oath-taking, which was telecast live on national television station RTM, was followed by three shouts of “Daulat Tuanku” (Long live the King) led by the Datuk Paduka Maharaja Lela (Grand Chamberlain) Major Gen (Rtd) Mamat Ariffin Abdullah, the firing of a 21-gun salute, and the playing of the national anthem “Negaraku” by the Royal Malaysian Air Force band.
The report in Bernama said the king was wearing the official dress of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, called the Muskat, which is made of black wool and embroidered with gold threads, as well as the “Dendam Tak Sudah” headgear or “tengkolok”, and embroidered long pants, among other regal motifs.
Sultan Muhammad V, who hails from the east coast state of Kelantan, is the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong (king), after his appointment was unanimously agreed upon by the rest of the sultans in the country’s Conference of Rulers last year.
The king also called for the nation’s younger generation to equip themselves with knowledge and skills as they were the country’s future.
“I believe that there is no full-stop in seeking knowledge and skills.
“In this respect, I call on all Malaysians, particularly the young, to continue to seek in-depth knowledge and skills needed by the nation,” he said.
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The New Straits Times (via Bernama) reports that the 47-year-old king places at deep interest in knowledge and education which encouraged him to go to England to pursue studies at the Oakham School in Rutland up to 1989. Sultan Muhammad V also continued his education in Diplomatic Studies in St. Cross College, Oxford, and in Islamic Studies at the Oxford Centre up to 1991.
The King is also the Chancellor of Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) and also the National Defence University of Malaysia (UPNM) and was known to attend every convocation of these universities.
Sultan Muhammad V’s home state of Kelantan is among nine of Malaysia’s thirteen states that have royal families. These nine sultans take turns being the Yang Di Pertuan Agong of the country every five years.
While the position of the monarch in the country is seen as a ceremonial role, the country’s Federal Constitution stipulates that the YDP Agong and the sultans are to be consulted on issues such as the passing of laws, dissolution of Parliament and formation of government.
The country’s Sultans generally do not intervene in the nation’s politics although there have been instances where royals have influenced election outcomes.
In 2009, the Sultan of Perak denied the Pakatan Rakyat party, the federal opposition coalition ruling the state at the time, from holding fresh elections after several state legislators defected to Barisan Nasional, the pact that runs the federal government.