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Malaysia's sultans to elect next king on Friday - state media
Malaysia's sultans to elect next king on Friday - state media
Asia
Malaysia's sultans to elect next king on Friday - state media
by DZRH News27 October 2023
FILE PHOTO: A view of the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia August 16, 2021. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng/File Photo

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) -Malaysia's sultans are scheduled to meet on Friday to elect the next king from among themselves, state news agency Bernama reported.

Malaysia has a unique system in which the heads of its nine royal families take turns to be monarch for a five-year term. The Southeast Asian country is a parliamentary democracy, with the monarch serving as head of state.

The Office of the Keeper of the Rulers' Seal, which handles the affairs of the sultans, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Bernama report. But it said in a statement a meeting of the sultans on Thursday would be the final one attended by the monarch, King Al-Sultan Abdullah.

Though the vote for the king is held by secret ballot, appointments have followed a rotation since independence, suggesting that Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, of the southern state of Johor, is in line to take over after Al-Sultan Abdullah, whose reign is due to expire in January.

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Johor is linked to the city state of Singapore by a causeway and Sultan Ibrahim has backed the idea of setting up a special economic zone with Singapore to strengthen ties.

Unlike other traditional Malaysian rulers, Sultan Ibrahim has been outspoken about politics, and has said he has a good relationship with Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

He is known for various business ventures, with shares in some major firms including a private company that has a joint venture with Chinese property developer Country Garden’s Forest City project.

The future of Forest City, a $100-billion development on four reclaimed islands off Johor, has come into question in recent weeks amid fears of default at cash-strapped Country Garden.

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Malaysia's king plays a largely ceremonial role and has a few discretionary powers but the monarchy has become more influential in recent years amid political uncertainty.

Under the constitution, the king's powers include the ability to appoint a prime minister able to command a majority in parliament.

Since ascending the throne in 2019, Al-Sultan Abdullah has had to exercise the power three times, most recently in November when he appointed Anwar following an election that produced a hung parliament.

The king also has the power to pardon convicted people. In 2018, Al-Sultan Abdullah's predecessor, Sultan Muhammad V, pardoned Anwar, who was then imprisoned on sodomy and corruption charges that he says were politically motivated.

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Former prime minister Najib Razak, jailed last year on a graft conviction linked to a scandal over state fund 1MDB, has applied for a royal pardon, a request that could be reviewed by the new king.

(Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi, Rozanna Latiff and Danial Azhar; Editing by Martin Petty, Robert Birsel)

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