A brand new king will ascend to the throne in Malaysia, however nobody died or was deposed to depart him in cost. Instead, as a part of Malaysia’s distinctive, rotating monarchy, Sultan Ibrahim ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, ruler of the southern Malaysian state of Johor, was “elected” by a council of state sovereigns on Friday.
The 64-year-old Sultan Ibrahim will substitute incumbent sovereign Al-Sultan Abdullah ibni Sultan Ahmad Shah, who was topped in 2019 and ends his time period on January 30.
While Malaysia’s monarchy bears some similarities to that of its former British colonizers, since gaining independence in 1957, the nation, which is ruled by way of parliamentary democracy with the monarch holding a largely ceremonial head-of-state position, has applied a one-of-its-kind system of succession. Under the structure, the monarch, referred to as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or Agong for brief, is modified each 5 years. And the crown will not be handed down by bloodline upon the earlier monarch’s dying or abdication, however moderately it falls to the following in a longtime order of 9 royal households who share the throne and are additionally the rulers of 9 of the nation’s 13 states. Even although the following in line is thought, the monarch-to-be requires majority approval by the group of royals by way of a secret poll.
Given the monarchy’s elevated standing in Malaysia’s politics over the previous few years, the newly-approved Sultan Ibrahim has “large sneakers to fill,” says Muhamad Takiyuddin, affiliate professor of political science at University Kebangsaan Malaysia.
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“In the present political environment in Malaysia, we may be certain the monarchy [is] not solely anticipated to play [an] necessary position as stabilizer but additionally as [an] necessary supply of psychological aid for the folks,” Takiyuddin tells TIME.
The monarchy’s rising intervention
The Agong performs a largely ceremonial position in Malaysia’s federal constitutional monarchy, being the nation’s steward of its major faith, Islam. His powers are restricted: the Agong acts upon recommendation by the Prime Minister or a cupboard official.
But the Agong indicators off on legal guidelines and appointments to high-ranking state posts, and he’s the Supreme Commander of Malaysia’s Armed Forces. He additionally has the facility to grant pardons, reprieves, and respites.
In current years, political crises in Malaysia have prompted the Agong to step in. The shock resignation of veteran parliamentarian Mahathir Mohamad from the premiership in 2020 prompted Al-Sultan Abdullah to speak to all 222 lawmakers earlier than deciding on who will succeed Mahathir. He then appointed Muhyidin Yassin as Prime Minister. When Muhyiddin resigned amid lack of majority help 17 months later, the Agong repeated this course of.
When the nation’s common elections in November final yr resulted in a historic hung parliament as main political coalitions couldn’t cobble collectively a easy majority, the Agong intervened again and appointed Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.
As monarch, Al-Sultan Abdullah had beforehand pardoned Anwar in 2018, after being jailed since 2015 on sodomy expenses.
What to find out about Sultan Ibrahim
Born Nov. 22, 1958, Sultan Ibrahim is of Malay-British descent. His father is Sultan Iskandar ibni Almarhum Sultan Ismail, who led the state from 1981 till his dying in 2010. His mom is Josephine Ruby Trevorrow, whom Sultan Iskandar met while he was studying in Britain. The two had 4 youngsters, together with Sultan Ibrahim.
The Johor royal is a totally educated military, navy, and air power officer, in response to his coronation website. He studied on the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston.
Sultan Ibrahim can be concerned in a number of companies. Most notably, he has shares in a personal firm that has partnered up with embattled Chinese property developer Country Garden on the $100-billion Forest City challenge. The Forest City challenge, conceived in 2006, was envisioned as a wise metropolis spanning 4 reclaimed islands off Johor, however monetary difficulties saddling Country Garden has put the event of the property on maintain, placing into question whether the project will even be completed.
Unlike conventional Malaysian rulers, Sultan Ibrahim stands out for his candor. He has spoken towards parliamentarians causing political instability in Malaysia, and brazenly shared his opinion on Malaysia’s relations with China, which he referred to as a “good and dependable ally.” Sultan Ibrahim can be identified for his non secular moderation—in 2017, he ordered an alleged “Muslim-only” laundrette to apologize and to cease discriminating towards non-Muslims or face closure.
Sultan Ibrahim enjoys close relations with Anwar, however Takiyuddin, the Malaysian political scientist, doesn’t consider the brand new monarch will “excessively” affect politics. “Sultan Ibrahim is called a sultan who is sort of unbiased,” he tells TIME. “He listens [to] the views of all events.”