KUALA LUMPUR: Pahang’s Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah was elected as the new Malaysian king on Thursday (Jan 24) by members of the country's royal families, following the unexpected abdication of the previous monarch.
Sultan Abdullah, 59, will formally take over the throne on Jan 31 for a five-year term, the Keeper of the Rulers' Seal Syed Danial Syed Ahmad said.
Perak’s Sultan Nazrin Shah has been elected deputy king.
Malaysia's nine royal households take turns to provide a king, who is chosen through a vote in a Council of Rulers, made up of the nine households, most of which are led by a sultan.
The functions of the king are largely ceremonial. He serves to safeguard Islam in Muslim-majority country, and his assent is needed for the appointment of a prime minister and various senior officials.
The special meeting, which began at 11.15am at Istana Negara, was chaired by Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin of Terengganu.
Eight Malay rulers cast their ballot papers during the election process. The proceedings ended by 12.45pm.
Journalists and photographers began gathering outside the Istana as early as 7am.
The need for a new king came after the former king, Sultan Muhammad V, made the unprecedented move to step down on Jan 6, after just two years on the throne.
The abdication, a first for Malaysia in modern times, followed reports that he married an ex-beauty queen in Russia in November during a purported two-month medical leave.
Under Malaysia's constitutional monarchy system, the election for the king is held on a rotational basis every five years. The Sultan of Pahang was believed to be next in line, followed by the Sultan of Johor.
Sultan Abdullah was proclaimed ruler of Pahang on Jan 15, putting him at the head of the line to be elected as king.
He was appointed to succeed his father, Sultan Ahmad Shah, 88, who is “gravely ill”.
His ascent to the Pahang throne was seen as a sign that he would take over as the new monarch.
The sultan, who was born on Jul 30, 1959, is the fourth child and eldest son of Sultan Ahmad Shah and the late Tengku Afzani Tengku Muhammad.
Sultan Abdullah is on the non-executive supervisory council of football governing body FIFA. He is also the president of the Asian Hockey Federation.