Johor’s Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar has said he declined an offer to be the next Malaysian king because “he wants to strictly adhere to the rotation system”.
He disclosed this in a Facebook post late on Friday night, hours after the Conference of Rulers ended a three-day meeting by choosing the Sultan of Kelantan, Muhammad V, as the next Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Under Malaysia’s unique monarchy system, the hereditary rulers from the nine states on the peninsula take turns to be the country’s head of state for a five-year term.
The Johor ruler said in his Facebook posting that, contrary to social media reports, he declined the offer to become the next Yang di-Pertuan Agong because he wanted to strictly adhere to the rotation system set by the Conference of Rulers.
He added: “Under this time-tested succession pattern, the Sultan of Kelantan is next in line, followed by the Sultan of Pahang. Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar respects and understands the rule of succession by rotation and wishes to abide by this.”
The Johor Sultan’s Facebook post raised some eyebrows.
“It is very rare for details of discussions in a Rulers’ Council meeting to be disclosed to the public,” said Mr Wan Saiful Wan Jan, chief executive of think-tank the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs.
The British-educated Muhammad V, 47, who is the current deputy king, will be the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong since Malaysia’s independence. He succeeds 88-year-old Kedah ruler Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah, whose reign as king officially ends on Dec 12.
There was a surprising turn of events in the selection of the next deputy king, according to The Star newspaper.
Perak ruler Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, 59, was chosen as deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong although Pahang ruler Sultan Ahmad Shah was next in line for the post, the newspaper said. Sultan Ahmad, who will soon turn 86, was seen being driven in a yellow buggy inside the palace to attend the meeting on the first day of the rulers’ conference.
For the first time, both the newly selected king and his deputy are a generation younger than most of the other rulers, The Star noted.
Under the federal Constitution, the role of Yang di-Pertuan Agong is mostly ceremonial. He acts as the head of Islam and appoints Cabinet ministers and senior judges on the advice of the prime minister.
The chairman of this year’s Conference of Rulers was the Johor Sultan, but the Raja of Perlis, Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail, chaired the final day’s special meeting to select the king and his deputy, according to The Star.
Voting for the new king is usually done via a secret ballot handed out by the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal during the special election meeting. A majority of five votes is required before the chairman presiding over the meeting offers the office of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to the nominee.