THE Malaysian King Sultan Muhammad V stepped down from the throne Sunday in an unprecedented resignation for the country, ending days of widespread speculation of his future in the office and amid rumours of his recent marriage to a Russian ex-model.
The royal palace issued a statement saying the King resigned from his post as the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Head of state) in line with provisions in the Federal Constitution and after informing the “matter officially to the Malay rulers”.
The palace’s Comptroller of the Royal Household Wan Ahmad Dahlan Ab. Aziz, in the statement, did not indicate the reasons for the sultan’s resignation but said the latter had expressed gratitude to the Prime Minister and government for rendering their full cooperation in governing the nation.
“Throughout his tenure as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, his Royal Highness has fulfilled his duties as the Head of State, a pillar of national stability, a source of justice and basis of unity and uniting factor for the people,” the statement read.
“The King would like to offer his thanks to all the state Rulers for selecting him as the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong, from Dec 13, 2016.”
Sultan Muhammad V’s resignation comes barely two years after he ascended the throne and three years shy of his five-year term as the country’s head of state.
His resignation also comes barely days after he returned from a two-month medical leave and months after he reportedly married 25-year-old Russian beauty queen Oksana Voevodina.
— Grid.ID (@grid_id) January 7, 2019
Despite stepping down as the Agong, Sultan Muhammad V remains the ruling sultan of Kelantan.
Under Malaysia’s unique constitutional monarchy system, the office of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, which was set up 1957 – the year Malaysia gained independence from British occupation – mandates a formal election of the head of state for a five-year term.
The role of Malaysia’s rulers is largely ceremonial, but the constitution provides certain extensive powers to the appointed Agong. For example, the Agong is the custodian of Islam in the country and has three major functions; appointing the Prime Minister, dissolving parliament to make way for elections, and to call for meetings involving the conference of rulers.
However, the Agong does not have the power to dismiss a prime minister.
The selection of the Agong is done by the Majlis Raja-raja, also known as the Conference of Rulers consisting the nine rulers of the Malay states.
Out of Malaysia’s 13 states, only nine have hereditary royal houses.
Around Monday afternoon, the Conference of rulers gathered for a special meeting to determine the next line of succession.
From the meeting, the conference appointed the Deputy Yang Dipertuan Agong, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah – the Sultan of the northern state of Perak – as the acting Agong pending the election of a new one.
Local reports said it may take several weeks although Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, whose Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) political pact unseated the decades-ruling Barisan Nasional coalition in a historic election defeat, said the government hoped Agong would be selected as soon as possible.
Under the rotation system, the next in line to the throne is Pahang’s Sultan Ahmad Shah, followed by Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar of Johor, and Sultan Nazrin Shah of Perak, according to Free Malaysia Today.
Constitutional expert Professor Salleh Buang told the New Straits Times the Conference of Rulers would offer the office of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to the ruler who qualifies for election and thus depends on which ruler is next on the election list, and provided he accepts the office.
“Under the same section, if the offer is accepted, the Conference of Rulers would declare the elected ruler, after which the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal shall notify the result of the election in writing to both Houses of Parliament,” he was quoted as saying.