Malaysia en­thrones new king in lav­ish cer­e­mony

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Malaysia yes­ter­day in­stalled its 15th king, Sul­tan Muham­mad V, a rel­a­tively youth­ful monarch known for his fond­ness for four-wheel driv­ing and other ex­treme sports. In a cer­e­mony steeped in pomp and cen­turies of tra­di­tion, the 47-year-old Sul­tan, dressed in gold-col­ored tra­di­tional Malay for­mal wear, took the oath of of­fice in the na­tional palace in Kuala Lumpur.

The cer­e­mony, marked by honor guards and Is­lamic prayers, was tele­vised na­tion­ally and at­tended by Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak and hun­dreds of guests decked out in Is­lamic fin­ery. Sul­tan Muham­mad V, cur­rently the cer­e­mo­nial ruler of the con­ser­va­tive Is­lamic north­ern state of Ke­lan­tan, takes the na­tional throne un­der the ro­tat­ing monar­chy in place since in­de­pen­dence from Bri­tain in 1957.In a unique ar­range­ment, the throne of the Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­try changes hands ev­ery five years be­tween the rulers of the nine Malaysian states still headed by Is­lamic royalty.

Sul­tan Muham­mad V stud­ied at St Cross Col­lege at Oxford and the Oxford Cen­tre for Is­lamic Stud­ies, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial me­dia. He is known for a re­laxed pub­lic per­sona, tak­ing part in walkathons to pro­mote health, and has been pho­tographed wear­ing a base­ball cap back­wards. The Sul­tan “fills his free time by reading and has an in­ter­est in ex­treme sports such as four­wheel drive ex­pe­di­tions and en­durance chal­lenges and shoot­ing,” Ber­nama news agency said. De­spite the merely cer­e­mo­nial role, Malaysia’s Is­lamic royalty com­mand great re­spect, es­pe­cially from Mus­lim Malays, the coun­try’s ma­jor­ity group, and crit­i­cis­ing them is strictly for­bid­den.

Por­traits of the king and queen adorn gov­ern­ment build­ings through­out the coun­try. The king is also the sym­bolic head of Is­lam in the na­tion, as well as the nom­i­nal chief of the mil­i­tary. Malaysia’s sul­tans trace a lin­eage back to Malay sul­tanates of the 15th cen­tury. The king is re­ferred to as Yang di-Per­tuan Agong, or “He Who Is Made Lord”. Sul­tan Muham­mad V re­places Sul­tan Ab­dul Halim Mu’adzam Shah from the north­ern state of Kedah, now 89, who was king pre­vi­ously in the 1970s and be­came the first per­son to hold the po­si­tion twice. — AFP

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