A new Malaysian king will be selected by the end of the month, after a historically unprecedented resignation by the country’s ruler on Sunday left the monarchy in a state of uncertainty over who would be the successor to the throne.
Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan resigned as the 15th Agong, or Supreme Ruler of the federation, after ruling for just two years – three years short of his stipulated five-year term. No reason was given for the abdication.
Malaysia’s kings are usually selected on a rotational basis from amongst the country’s nine monarchical heads. The next king in line is the Sultan of Pahang, but the 88-year-old’s ailing health has raised concerns of who should rightly succeed.
On Monday, six of the nine state rulers, collectively named the Conference of Rulers, held a meeting at the National Palace to decide who would be next in line to the throne.
“The rulers attending this gathering have fixed Thursday, January 24, 2019 to hold a special Conference of Rulers meeting for the purpose of electing the Yang di-Pertuan Agong XVI (King) and the Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Deputy King),” Keeper of the Royal Seal Tan Sri Syed Danial said in a statement.
The swearing-in ceremony for both royal positions would be held on January 31, the statement added.
The king’s role is largely ceremonial, as most of the authority to govern is held by the prime minister and cabinet.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed said Monday the government would “not interfere in this matter,” in comments reported by state news agency Bernama.