The Malaysian Council of Rulers is to meet on January the 24th to elect a new king and deputy. The new rulers will be sworn in on the 31st.
This follows on from the announcement that Sultan Muhammad V was to abdicate after only ascending to the throne in 2016. This is a first in Malaysian history.
In his abdication statement, he thanked the other rulers, as well as the prime minister and government.
Sultan Muhammad V had previously taken a leave of absence. His rule was affected by rumours that he married a former Russian beauty queen. However, the marriage has not been commented on by royal officials, and no reason has been given for his abdication.
Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy. The King is elected every five years by the heads of Malaysia’s nine royal households. The election is rotational, and they choose from amongst themselves. The Sultans of the households take turns in serving as king for five years.
According to the current rotation, the Sultan of Pahang is next in line. However, he is reportedly ailing and did not attend the most recent meeting of the rulers due to ill health. The Pahang household is to meet to discuss the possibility the Sultan of Pahang’s son, who has served as regent for the last two years, to take over as Sultan. This would bypass the Sultan’s ill health and allow his son to take up the role.
The role is mostly ceremonial. However, the King’s assent is required when appointing the prime minister and other senior officials.
Upon abdicating or the role becoming vacant, the new king must be appointed within four weeks. However, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that the election was brought forward because he required an audience with the King.
With the country in a new and unique position, the outcome will only be revealed upon the election of the new king.