See More on Facebook

Culture and society, Current affairs

Sultan Muhammad V steps down as Malaysia’s King

The council of 9 kings which rule Malaysia on a rotational basis has accepted the resignation.


Written by

Updated: January 7, 2019

Malaysia’s King has abdicated in an unprecedented move, ending weeks of speculation about his future that had heightened after a recent meeting of the country’s nine monarchs.

The National Palace said on Sunday (Jan 6) that Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan had resigned as the 15th Agong, or Supreme Ruler of the federation.

“His Majesty has prepared to return to Kelantan Darul Naim to be with the state government and especially the people of Kelantan to safeguard and develop Kelantan for the betterment of the public,” the Comptroller of the Royal Household Wan Ahmad Dahlan Ab Aziz said in a statement issued by Istana Negara.

His reign ended in controversial fashion after he took a two-month break “following treatment” beginning Nov 2. It was reported during this time that the 49-year-old had married Russian beauty queen Oksana Voevodina, 25, in Moscow.

During that time, Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah was Acting King until Dec 31. Just days later, the Council of Rulers held a “rare and unscheduled” meeting, and speculation spread quickly that Sultan Muhammad would step down soon.

That has now come to pass and The Straits Times understands that Sultan Nazrin will continue as Acting King before a new monarch is picked by the Council.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad also wrote in a blog posting titled “Rule of Law” last Wednesday that all Malaysians, including the royalty, were bound by the laws of the land.

“There is no provision which exempts anyone from the rule of law. For the rulers, there is a special court, but the laws are the same as the laws applicable to ordinary citizens.

The rulers too must respect the laws,” he wrote. “It is disturbing to see blatant breaches of the law being perpetrated in the mistaken belief that immunity has somehow been accorded.”

However, his posting did not make specific reference to any offence. While there is nothing that bars a monarch from marrying a foreigner, ST has learnt that other rulers were uneasy with the arrangement and the possible coronation of Ms Voevodina as Queen.

Asked about the Agong’s status on Friday, Tun Mahathir said he had not received any official information and had only heard rumours.

Sultan Muhammad was the first Agong without a queen consort. He was also a part of history as it was during his reign that the Barisan Nasional’s unbroken rule over Malaysia ended after last year’s May 9 elections.

Although he swore in Dr Mahathir as premier late on May 10, he had first invited Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail to his Palace earlier in the day. He then met with leaders from Pakatan Harapan for hours leading to speculation over whether he would refuse to install Dr Mahathir, who was the ruling coalition’s agreed choice for PM.

On Sunday, former prime minister Najib Razak expressed his gratitude to the Sultan for his service, while Kelantan Menteri Besar Ahmad Yakob said the state government has accepted the Sultan’s decision to resign.

Sultan Muhammad’s final decree to Malaysians as Agong was to “continue together in maintaining unity, tolerance and join hands in bearing the responsibility for this sovereign country so that Malaysia remains peaceful and harmonious”.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


About the Author: The Straits Times is Singapore's top-selling newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Culture and society, Current affairs

10 US senators criticise Suu Kyi for representing military’s interest

Suu Kyi is in the Hague defending Myanmar from genocide accusations. Ten US Senators have severely criticized Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi for representing the military’s interest before the International Court of Justice and defending the mass atrocities committed against the Rohingyas and other ethnic minorities. “Representing the Burmese military’s interest before The Hague and defending the mass atrocities committed against the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities would undermine what remaining credibility you have before the international community, including in the US Congress,” said a letter to Suu Kyi issued on December 9. The Senators said a defense of the Burmese military at this high-profile international forum is also an affront to the inclusive, multi-cultural and democratic Burma that she claims to champion. They said when Buddhist nationalism is on the rise in


By Daily Star
December 13, 2019

Culture and society, Current affairs

India under Modi is moving systematically with a supremacist agenda, says PM Imran

Imran Khan made the comments after India passed a controversial citizenship requirement. Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday that India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been moving systematically with a Hindu supremacist agenda. The prime minister was referencing the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill passed by India’s upper house amid protests on Wednesday. The bill will let the Indian government grant citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants who entered India from three neighbouring countries before 2015 — but not if they are Muslim. Modi’s government — re-elected in May and under pressure over a slowing economy — says Muslims from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan are excluded from the legislation because they do not face discrimination in those countries. Taking to Twitter, Prime Minister I


By Dawn
December 13, 2019

Culture and society, Current affairs

Nepal moves up in Human Development Index but still lags behind in South Asia

Nepal’s human development index of 0,579 indicates that people are living longer, are more educated and have greater incomes, according to the Human Development Report. Despite global progress in tackling poverty, hunger and disease, a ‘new generation of inequalities’ indicates that many societies are not working as they should and Nepal is not an exception, according to a new human development report released on Tuesday. The old inequalities were based on access to health services and education whereas the new generation of inequalities is based on technology, education and the climate, according to the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report. “Previously, we talked about wealth as a major driver for inequality. Now, countries like Nepal are in another inequality trap and that concerns


By The Kathmandu Post
December 12, 2019

Culture and society, Current affairs

Taiwan among top 10 study destinations for U.S. students

Thailand and Singapore among other Asian destinations. China welcomed the highest number of U.S. students last year, followed by Japan and India in second and third places, respectively, according to a recent survey about exchange students in Asia. South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan, and Indonesia rounded up the top 10 list of the most popular Asian countries among U.S. students. According to AsiaExchange, “The high level of education, low exposure to crime, economic freedom and good healthcare system are a few examples of why Taiwan is ranked 2nd on the annual Global Peace Index.” It’s also very safe to live in Taiwan, as crime rates are low, the Website stressed, noting that Taiwan’s focus on human rights, gender equality and freedom of speech has made it a top destination for education. Taiwan, whose institutions are strong and reliable, has remained la


By Cod Satrusayang
December 12, 2019

Culture and society, Current affairs

Aung San Suu Kyi denies genocidal intent on Rohingya

She urges world court to let Myanmar justice system work. Denying that Myanmar had genocidal intent in its treatment of the Rohingya people, its de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday (Dec 11) urged the International Court of Justice in The Hague to let her country’s justice system run its course. “Can there be genocidal intent on the part of a state that actively investigates, prosecutes and punishes soldiers and officers who are accused of wrongdoing?” she asked at the world court, while presenting her opening statement on the second day of public hearings related to Gambia’s lawsuit alleging that Myanmar had breached the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Carefully avoiding the word “Rohingya”, Ms Suu Kyi said Gambia has given “an incomplete and misleading factual picture”. She referred in her half-


By The Straits Times
December 12, 2019

Culture and society, Current affairs

Arguments strong enough to convince judges: expert

Myanmar at The Hague for genocide. The arguments presented by the Gambia’s lawyers at the top UN court yesterday were extremely strong and should convince the judges to issue “provisional measures” against Myanmar to stop genocide against the Rohingyas, said a legal expert. If the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issues such an order, Myanmar will be under real pressure as it is a binding one, said the expert. “It was truly convincing the way the lawyers, who are very reputed in their fields, presented their arguments at the top UN court in the Hague,” Ahmed Ziauddin, a genocide researcher based in Brussels, told this correspondent yesterday. “They made it very clear that provisional measures were urgent to protect the Rohingyas, and such measures won’t affect Myanmar as a state.” The ICJ is not a criminal court that can issue an arrest order against any individual. But


By Daily Star
December 11, 2019