KUALA LUMPUR: A little more than two weeks after being proclaimed as the Sultan of Pahang on Jan 15, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah made history by becoming the fastest to ascend the federal throne as Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
The previous record was when the Raja of Perlis Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Putra Jamalullail became the 12th Yang di-Pertuan Agong in December 2001 after he began his reign as Raja of Perlis in April 2000.
Yesterday, Malaysia marked the time-honoured tradition of appointing its King and Deputy King when Sultan Abdullah was sworn in as the new Yang di-Pertuan Agong in a ceremony steeped in tradition at Istana Negara.
At the ceremony, the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Muizzudin Shah, took the oath of office as Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Their Majesties were elected to the office, respectively, by the Malay Rulers at the 251st (Special) Meeting of the Conference of Rulers at Istana Negara on Jan 24 to reign for a five-year term from yesterday.
The entire month of January saw a series of unprecedented events in Malaysia’s constitutional monarchy.
Following the resignation of Kelantan’s Sultan Muhammad V as Yang di-Pertuan Agong on Jan 6, the Pahang royal council moved quickly to preserve the line of succession in the rotation of the nine Malay Rulers.
The Sultan of Pahang should have become the next King but due to Paduka Ayahanda Sultan Ahmad Shah’s health condition, the royal council decided to conduct his abdication in favour of Sultan Abdullah on Jan 11.
This was made possible by an amendment to the Laws of the Constitution of Pahang. Previously, a Sultan of Pahang could only abdicate out of his own free will.
By Jan 15, Sultan Abdullah was proclaimed as the new Ruler of Pahang. This made him eligible to be elected King.
Later on Jan 24, he was chosen as the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong by the Conference of Rulers.
Malaysia is one of 43 nations which practise the system of a constitutional monarchy, but the rotational system of electing a king from among nine Malay rulers is the only one of its kind in the world.
Sultan Abdullah, 59, and Sultan Nazrin, 62, took their oath and signed the instruments of office before the other Malay Rulers from Negri Sembilan, Selangor, Perlis, Terengganu, Kedah, Johor, the Tengku Mahkota of Kelantan, the Regent of Pahang and the Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Melaka, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak as well as dignitaries from the executive, legislative and judiciary.
The ceremony at the Balairung Seri was held during the 252nd (Special) Meeting of the Conference of Rulers chaired by the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah.
The Sultan of Terengganu, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, and Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin also signed the instruments of office, as the witnesses.
Sultan Abdullah signed the proclamation of assuming the office of the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Sultan Nazrin the office of the Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad read out the instrument of proclamation, officially signifying Sultan Abdullah’s ascension to the throne as the new head of state of Malaysia in accordance with the laws and the Federal Constitution.
Sabah mufti Datuk Bungsu @ Aziz Jaafar recited the prayer seeking the blessings of the Almighty for the well-being of Their Majesties, the people and nation.
Sultan Abdullah arrived at Istana Negara with sovereign escorts from Parliament Square after the state welcome following the flight from Kuantan.
As the royal vehicle passed the guard of honour mounted by three officers and 31 men led by Mej Mohd Azwan Ariff Mohd Azawi from the 1st Battalion of the Royal Rangers Regiment, the King acknowledged the salute as it headed to the main porch of Istana Negara.
Sultan Abdullah was welcomed by Datuk Paduka Maharaja Lela Maj Jen (Rtd) Datuk Mamat Ariffin and the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal, Tan Sri Syed Danial Syed Ahmad.
The Royal Rangers Regiment’s central band of 33 men headed by Maj Abdul Aziz Abdullah then played the national anthem.
Sultan Abdullah, accompanied by the other Malay Rulers, the Tengku Makhota of Kelantan, the Regent of Pahang and the Yang di-Pertua Negeri, proceeded to the Balairung Seri for the swearing-in and signing of the instrument of office and declaration of assuming office.
After the ceremony, Sultan Abdullah and Sultan Nazrin posed for photographs with the other Malay Rulers, Yang di-Pertua Negeri, Dr Mahathir, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Mentris Besar and Chief Ministers.
The King also granted an audience for the introduction of several dignitaries, among whom were Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, Syariah Chief Judge Datuk Mukhyuddin Ibrahim, Attorney General Tommy Thomas, Chief of Defence Forces Jen Tan Sri Zulkifli Zainal Abidin, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof, Dewan Negara President Tan Sri S. Vigneswaran and Chief Secretary to the Government Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Bakar.