Biden meets China’s FM as two superpowers gear up toward expected leaders summit

Biden meets China’s FM as two superpowers gear up toward expected leaders summit
Biden meets China’s FM as two superpowers gear up toward expected leaders summit

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s royalty on Friday elected Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar to be the new king, as the country’s current monarch steps down next year.

Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy with a unique system where the post of king rotates between the heads of its nine Islamic royal Malay houses every five years.

Sultan Ibrahim, 64, of the southern Johor state, was picked as the Muslim-majority nation’s 17th king after a special meeting was held this morning between the nine rulers, a palace official said in a statement.

“I inform that the Conference of Rulers ... have agreed to declare that His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, Sultan of Johor Darul Ta’zim has been elected as His Majesty the 17th Yang di-Pertuan Agong,” Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal Syed Danial Syed Ahmad said.

Sultan Ibrahim’s reign will last five years from Jan. 31, 2024. He will replace Al-Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang as the country’s new Yang di-Pertuan Agong or “He Who is Made Lord.”

Al-Sultan Abdullah, who will end his rule as supreme monarch on Jan. 30, ascended to the throne in 2019 when Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan abdicated after just two years as head of state.

It was the first time a Malaysian king abdicated, with no official reason given for the resignation.

Syed Danial also said Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah of Perak was elected as the deputy king, whose role encompasses the functions of the head monarch when he is away from office.

Though the vote for head monarch is held by ballot, appointments to the role follow a rotation held since the country’s independence from British colonial rule in 1957.

“The Conference of Rulers — consistent of nine Malay rulers — will offer to the state ruler first on the list, although the said ruler can refuse,” BowerGroupAsia director Hafidzi Razali told Arab News.

“In the instance of refusal, the Conference will offer (the post) to the next state on the list.”

The influential Sultan Ibrahim of Johor is the ruler of Malaysia’s southernmost peninsular state which borders Singapore by a causeway.

Holding significant business interests, he has shares in major Malaysian firms and commands his own private army, the only state allowed to do so.

A motorcycle enthusiast, he leads an annual motor vehicle tour of the state, taking him and his entourage through a public visit of Johor’s 10 districts.

Malaysia’s kings play a largely ceremonial role in the country’s day-to-day affairs as executive power rests with the prime minister.

They can appoint a lawmaker who holds a parliamentary majority as the country’s premier and exercise certain discretionary powers during a national crisis.

“The king serves as the final arbiter and point of reference,” Hafidzi said.

After a five-day political impasse in November, following an election that led to a hung parliament, Al-Sultan Abdullah named Anwar Ibrahim as the country’s prime minister.

He had met with several lawmakers including Anwar and his rival Muhyiddin Yassin before making the decision.

Malaysia’s kings also have the power to pardon convicts and are the country’s symbolic heads of Islam. Portraits of the king and his queen are placed in government buildings.

Sultan Ibrahim in his new role was “expected to place a strong emphasis on political stability, inter-race cohesion, unity, and pro-business or investment environment,” Hafidzi said.

“His role symbolizes the historical legacy of the Malay sultanates, as well as representing the guardianship of the special relationship between the monarchy, the Malay race and Islam.”

Malaysia’s royalty has a lineage that dates back to the 15th century, and it commands great respect from the country’s population of 33 million, especially from the Muslim, ethnic-Malay majority.

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