Malaysia: Sultan Muhammad V steps down as king

Charlene Craig
January 8, 2019

Malaysia's King Sultan Muhammad V has unexpectedly stepped down from the throne just months after marrying a former Russian beauty queen.

The 49-year-old king and Oksana, a former Miss Moscow victor, were allegedly married on 22 November in Barvikha, Russia.

Comptroller of the royal household, Wan Ahmad Dahlan, told Channel NewsAsia that the 49-year-old king had officially notified the Malay rulers about his abdication through a letter sent to the secretary of the conference of rulers.

His successor has yet to be named and Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, who stood in for the king while he was on medical leave, will continue in his acting position.

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"We Malaysians pray that you will always be granted health and protection by God", ex-premier Najib Razak wrote on Facebook.

Johor's Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar and Sultan Nazrin Shah of Perak, who is now the deputy king and is carrying out the functions of the king until a new one is elected, are the next two names in the rotational system.

Sultan Muhammad V studied at St Cross College at Oxford and the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.

Next in line for the top job is Sultan Azlan Shah of central Pahang state, who was king from 1979 to 1984, but the 88-year-old is now unwell and didn't attend Monday's council meeting.

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Mahathir's had a thorny relationship with Malaysia's royalty since 1993, when he changed the constitution to remove their legal immunity and scrapped laws barring people from criticizing the king. Sultan Muhammad V, ruler of northeast Kelantan state, was installed in December 2016 as one of the country's youngest constitutional monarchs.

Other political figures thanked the King for his service. For example, the Agong is the custodian of Islam in the country and has three major functions; appointing the Prime Minister, dissolving parliament to make way for elections, and to call for meetings involving the conference of rulers. The third sultan who was not present was King Muhammad.

Muhammad V was also the ruler who handed democracy icon and prime minister-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim a royal pardon in May, wiping clean his record of multiple charges of sodomy and corruption and releasing him from prison.

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