Sultan Ibrahim named Malaysia's next King
Malaysia appoints Sultan Ibrahim as next King
Malaysia's royal families have selected Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar of Johor, known for his influence and outspokenness, as the nation's next king. The Malaysian monarchy, largely ceremonial, has gained influence due to ongoing political instability, compelling the current king to exercise seldom-used discretionary powers.
Malaysia employs a unique system in which the country's nine royal families take turns serving as the monarch for five-year terms. Despite the monarchy's role as head of state in this Southeast Asian parliamentary democracy, Sultan Ibrahim will succeed the present king, Al-Sultan Abdullah, on January 31, 2024, as announced by the keeper of the rulers' seal.
Distinct from traditional Malaysian rulers, Sultan Ibrahim has actively engaged in politics and maintained a favorable relationship with Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. The sultan possesses diverse business interests, including real estate and mining, and is renowned for his extensive collection of luxury cars and motorcycles.
Al-Sultan Abdullah and Malaysian politics
Al-Sultan Abdullah assumed an unusually active role in Malaysian politics by choosing the last three prime ministers. Although the federal constitution bestows limited discretionary powers on the monarch, the king typically follows the counsel of the prime minister and cabinet. In addition to appointing a prime minister with a parliamentary majority, an authority previously unused until 2020, the king also holds the power to pardon convicted individuals.
These powers were invoked during a period of political instability triggered by the defeat of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which had ruled Malaysia continuously since its independence in 2018. Furthermore, the king can pardon individuals, as demonstrated in 2018 when Al-Sultan's predecessor, Sultan Muhammad V, pardoned Anwar, who was imprisoned on politically motivated charges. Additionally, former Prime Minister Najib Razak, currently incarcerated for graft related to the 1MDB state fund scandal, has submitted a request for a royal pardon, which the new king may review.