UNDER Malaysia’s constitutional monarchy, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s position as head of state is not hereditary but one which has to be elected by his peers.
And while other monarchies have only the king or queen, our Yang di-Pertuan Agong has a deputy.
His Majesty is elected by the Conference of Rulers according to the method and manner prescribed in the Third Schedule of the Constitution, and Regulations of the Conference of Rulers.
The Conference is made up of nine Rulers from Johor, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Perak, Kedah, Perlis, Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu, and governors of four other states.
However, when the Conference of Rulers convenes to select the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Deputy Agong, the governors shall not be present although they are members of the Conference.
Normally, the selection follows an order based on the seniority of each Ruler in terms of length of reign. This rule however, no longer applies after all state Rulers have taken their turn as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
The first cycle ended with the appointment of the Sultan of Perak as the ninth Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
A newly restructured list is currently in place, which is based on the seniority of the state whose Ruler has held the office of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (the first to the ninth) in accordance with the Third Schedule of the Federal Constitution.
The process to elect the Yang di-Pertuan Agong begins with obtaining the consent for the date of the Election Meeting.
The Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal shall then seek the consent of each Ruler to be nominated for election as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Deputy Agong.
A Ruler who does not desire to be elected shall notify the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal in writing and the state shall be transferred to the end of the nomination list.
The election is carried out by a secret ballot using unnumbered ballot papers but marked with the same pen and ink.
During the election process, the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal distributes the ballot paper with only one candidate and each Ruler is requested to indicate whether the candidate is suitable or not to be elected Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The ballot papers are then inserted into the ballot box.
The Ruler with the shortest reign, who is not listed as a candidate for the office of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or Deputy Agong, tallies the votes together with the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal.
Besides the Rulers and the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal, the only other person involved in the election process is the Assistant Secretary to the Conference of Rulers.
The nominee must obtain a majority of five votes before the Ruler presiding over the Election Meeting offers him the office of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
If the successful nominee declines the offer or the nominated Ruler fails to obtain the required majority votes, the voting process is repeated with the nomination of the second most senior Ruler in the seniority list of Rulers.
The process is completed only after the Ruler has accepted the offer of office of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
The Conference then declares the Ruler as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to hold office for a term of five years.
The Deputy Agong is elected right after the election of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong through the same process.
As soon as the results of the elections are announced, the ballot papers are destroyed in the presence of the Rulers.
The Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal will make known the results of the elections in writing to the Dewan Negara, Dewan Rakyat and the Prime Minister who then issues a press statement on the matter.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Deputy Agong may only carry out their official functions after signing the oaths of office before the Conference of Rulers in the presence of the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, with two Rulers appointed by the Conference signing as witnesses.