Following the abdication of Muhammad V, and a meeting of the Conference of Rulers on 24th January, it has been announced that the new King or Supreme Head of the Confederation of Malaysia will be Sultan Abdullah of Pahang. He will take office as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (meaning he who is made Lord) today, on the 31st January and will be the 16th holder of the office since Malaysia gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1957.
Sultan Abdullah has only recently taken over as Sultan of Pahang (15th January) following the decision of his father to abdicate due to failing health. Though just newly elected to that role, Sultan Abdullah has been working with his father and has acted as Regent on three occasions in the past. He is no stranger to the world stage, as he is a member of FIFA Council. He was born on 30th July 1959 to Ahmad Shah of Pahang and is the fourth of eight children, Pahang being one of a few countries who still only have male rulers. He was educated at St Thomas’s School in Kuantan, before coming over to England to be schooled at Aldenham School in Hertfordshire and Davis College in London.
He has married twice, firstly in 1986 to Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah; she is the sister of Sultan Imbrahim Ismail of Johor. They had four sons and two daughters though sadly their eldest son died in 1990. Secondly, he married Cik Puan Julia Rais in 1991; they have three daughters together. The Sultan also adopted a son before any of the children were born. A keen supporter of sport, the Sultan is President of the Football Association of Malaysia, as well as being a vice-president of the Asian Football Conference executive committee, and President of the Asian Hockey Federation.
The Kings of Malaysia since independence have been voted into post, but this is by no means a modern idea. In the seventh century in Srivijaya the rulers were elected from the heads of the city-states. Though an elected monarchy, the King of Malaysia does have significant powers including if necessary picking and firing Prime Ministers. Though the King does have executive power, it is expected that this is delivered in close consultation with the elected cabinet, and it does seem to be a system which is working very well at the moment.