PETALING JAYA: The stepping down of Sultan Muhammad V as the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong puts the country in unfamiliar territory.
Never before has a Yang di-Pertuan Agong left his position.
The news about the King stepping down came through a statement by the Comptroller of the Royal Household Datuk Wan Ahmad Dahlan Ab Aziz yesterday evening.
The statement said the King, who started his reign on Dec 13, 2016, has resigned from his post in line with Article 32(3) of the Federal Constitution.
The Rulers are expected to meet today.
Many Malaysians now wonder who will be the country’s 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and how he will be chosen.
Malaysia is the only country in the world whose King is elected to serve on a rotational basis.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong and deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong serve five-year terms.
The manner in which they are elected is listed in the Third Schedule of the Constitution as well as the Regulations of the Conference of Rulers.
Legal expert Assoc Prof Dr Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz said the Constitution provides for the Conference of Rulers to hold a meeting to elect a new King if a vacancy happens.
The Conference of Rulers comprises the nine Malay Rulers as well as the Yang di-Pertua Negri of Penang, Melaka, Sabah and Sarawak.
“The Conference of Rulers can also vote for a deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong, if there is a vacancy,” said Shamrahayu.
The current deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah was elected to his position on Oct 14, 2016, at the 243rd Special Meeting of the Conference of Rulers.
The events that will unfold in the coming weeks are explained on the website of the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal.
It states that an election for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong must be held no later than four weeks from the date the position falls vacant.
Before the election is held, the Conference of Rulers will choose one candidate who consents to be elected based on the system of rotation.
An election is then held for that single candidate.
When the Conference meets to elect the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the Yang di-Pertua Negri shall not be present although they are members of the Conference.
The Malay Rulers who have reigned as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong since Aug 31, 1957, were from Negri Sembilan followed by Selangor, Perlis, Terengganu, Kedah, Kelantan, Pahang, Johor and Perak.
A second rotation followed with the Ruler of Negri Sembilan followed by Selangor, Perlis, Terengganu, Kedah and Kelantan’s Sultan Muhammad V.
Based on the order that all previous Yang di-Pertuan Agong have reigned, the next states to complete the current rotation after Kelantan would be Pahang, followed by Johor and Perak.
According to the Constitution, a Ruler is qualified to be elected the Yang di-Pertuan Agong unless he is a minor or has notified the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal that he does not want to be elected.
A Ruler is also excluded from being qualified if the Conference of Rulers resolves by secret ballot that he is unsuitable due to infirmity of mind or body or for any other cause to exercise the functions of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Prior to the election, the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal will seek the consent of each Ruler to be nominated for election.
An Election Meeting is then held to conduct balloting, done using unnumbered ballot papers marked with the same pen and ink.
The ballot papers will only have one candidate listed.
Each Ruler is requested to indicate on the ballot paper whether the candidate is suitable or not to be elected as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Shamrahayu said all nine Rulers will be eligible to vote, including the candidate.
“However, only the state Rulers are eligible to vote and not the governors or the Yang di-Pertua Negri,” she said.
Shamrahayu said there can only be one candidate in each election for the post of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
The candidate must obtain at least five votes in his favour before the Ruler presiding over the Election Meeting offers him the office of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
If a candidate gets enough votes but declines the offer, or if he fails to obtain the required majority, the voting process is repeated with the Ruler from the next state on the rotation list as candidate.
The process continues until a successful candidate accepts the 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.
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