New Delhi: Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar, the ruler of Johor state and one of the country’s richest men, was sworn in as the 17th King of Malaysia on Wednesday, under a unique system that rotates the throne among nine royal families every five years. The 65-year-old monarch took the oath of office at the Istana Negara (National Palace) in Kuala Lumpur and signed the instrument of the proclamation of office in a ceremony witnessed by other state rulers, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, and Cabinet members. A coronation ceremony will be held at a later date.
Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar has a wide-ranging business empire that includes real estate, telecommunications, and power plants. He also has a passion for luxury cars and motorcycles and owns a fleet of jet aircraft and properties abroad. He is known for his candid and outspoken views on various issues, such as the welfare of his people, the environment, and the economy. He often takes road trips on his Harley-Davidson to meet and interact with the people of his state, which borders Singapore. He has close ties with Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, and his rule could bolster the unity government, which faces strong opposition from Islamic parties.
Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar was elected to the national throne by his fellow state rulers in October, based on an established rotation order. He succeeded Sultan Abdullah of Pahang, who completed his five-year term on Tuesday. Sultan Nazrin of Perak, the next in line to the throne, was re-elected as Deputy King. The King of Malaysia, also known as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, or He Who is Made Lord, plays a largely ceremonial role, as administrative power is vested in the Prime Minister and Parliament. However, the King is the nominal head of the government and the armed forces and is highly regarded as the protector of Islam and Malay tradition. The King also has the power to declare a state of emergency and pardon criminals.
Malaysia has 13 states, but only nine have royal families, some of which trace their roots to centuries-old Malay kingdoms that were independent states until they were brought together by the British. The system of rotating monarchy was introduced in 1957, when Malaysia gained independence from Britain, as a way of ensuring equal representation and power-sharing among the nine royal families. Malaysia is the only country in the world that practices this system of elective monarchy.