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Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia
Monarchy
Federal
Coat of arms of Malaysia.svg
Arms of His Majesty The Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia
Yang di-pertuan agong ke-13.PNG
Incumbent:
Mizan Zainal Abidin
the Sultan of Terengganu
Style: His Majesty
First monarch: Tuanku Abdul Rahman
of Negeri Sembilan
Formation: 31 August 1957

Malaysia

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
Malaysia



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Royal Standard
Royal Headgear (Solek Dendam Tak Sudah) of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, in the style of a black songket headgear embroidered with gold thread.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is the head of state of Malaysia. The office was established at independence in 1957.

Translated into literal English, the words mean "He who is made Lord". However, common alternatives are "King", "Supreme Ruler", "Paramount Ruler", or "Supreme Head of State". Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy with an elected monarch as head of state. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is one of the few elected monarchs in the world.

Since 1993, the full title in Malay has been, Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Conqueror Majesty The Supreme Lord of the Federation). Prior to that, the honorific Ke Bawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia (The Dust Under The Feet Of His Royal Highness) was also used. The consort of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is called the Raja Permaisuri Agong. The couple are addressed in English as "His Majesty" and "Her Majesty".

In Malaysia's constitutional monarchy, the role of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is largely ceremonial. The constitution specifies that the executive power of the Federal government is vested in the King and is exercised by him on the advice of the federal Council of Ministers. The latter is headed by the Prime Minister, appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong from among the elected members of Parliament.

The 13th and current Yang di-Pertuan Agong is Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, the Sultan of Terengganu. His reign began on 13 December 2006 after his election by the Conference of Rulers. He was formally enthroned on 26 April 2007.[1]

Contents

Election of Yang di-Pertuan Agong

The system of elective monarchy is rare. The few in a sovereign state include the President elected by the Emirs of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The same member state always supplies the monarch, as did the Austrian archducal Habsburg for centuries in the Holy Roman Empire. The second-most influential UAE state appoints the position of Prime Minister. A second example of elected monarchy is the Vatican City, where the Pope is elected by the College of Cardinals. Third is Andorra, one of whose two monarchs is the democratically elected President of France.

The position of Yang di-Pertuan Agong is de facto rotated every five years among the nine Rulers of the Malay states. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is formally elected by and from among the nine Rulers, who form the Conference of Rulers. The selection of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong initially followed an order based on the seniority (calculated by length of reign) of each Ruler in 1957 at the Federation of Malaya's independence from the United Kingdom (UK). The Conference of Rulers, which has the power to disqualify a candidate, has sometimes varied the original seniority order. Minors are automatically disqualified from office. After each of the nine Rulers of the states had served as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the order of seniority was based on the order of the states whose rulers have been elected the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

In the event that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong dies in office, the Conference of Rulers elects a new Yang di-Pertuan Agong as if the previous term had expired. The new King is elected for a full five-year term. After his term expires, the Conference holds a new election, which does not guarantee the incumbent's re-election.

The Conference of Rulers has met regularly since 1895. The membership of the council includes the governors or Yang di-Pertua Negeri. Only royal rulers are allowed to vote and stand for election as Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

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Qualifications

  • Only a royal ruler may be elected.
  • Only the royal rulers may vote.
  • Rulers are elected in turn.

The Constitution provides that a Ruler is not eligible for election as Yang di-Pertuan Agong if:

  • The Ruler is a minor.
  • The Ruler has notified the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal that he does not wish to be elected.
  • The Conference of Rulers by a secret ballot resolves that the Ruler is unsuitable by reason of infirmity of mind or body, or for any other cause, to exercise the functions of the YDP. The resolution requires at least five members of the Conference to vote in favour of it.

Election proceedings

Letter of Appointment of His Majesty, the XIII Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Courtesy of the office of the Keeper of the Rulers' Seal, Conference of the Rulers of Malaysia.
Oath of Office of His Majesty, the XIII Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Courtesy of the office of the Keeper of the Rulers' Seal, Conference of the Rulers of Malaysia.

The election is carried out by a secret ballot. The ballot papers used are not numbered, but marked with the same pen and ink, and are inserted into a ballot box. Only the Rulers, the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal, and the Assistant Secretary of the Conference of Rulers participate in the election.

A Ruler may appoint another Ruler as his proxy to vote on his behalf if he is unable to attend the Election Meeting.

During the election process, the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal distributes the ballot with only one candidate (the most senior Ruler). Each Ruler is requested to indicate whether the most senior Ruler is suitable or not to be elected as Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

The most junior Ruler, who is not listed as nominee for the office of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, or the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is appointed to count the ballot papers together with the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal.

The nominee must have obtained a majority of five votes before the Ruler presiding over the Election Meeting offers him the office of Yang di-Pertuan Agong. If the successful nominee declines the offer or the nominated Ruler fails to secure the required majority votes, the voting process is repeated with the nomination of the second most senior Ruler in the Seniority List of Rulers.

The process is completed only after the Ruler has accepted the offer of the office of Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The Conference declares the Ruler as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to hold office for a term of five years. The ballot papers are destroyed in the presence of the Rulers as soon as the result of the election result is announced.

On taking office as Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the King appoints a regent for the duration of his five-year term for the state which he rules. Usually, but not always, the Regent is a close relative.

Order of seniority of states

After the first cycle of nine Yang di-Pertuan Agong (1957–1994), the order among the eligible, all peninsular, state rulers has followed the order established by that cycle, namely:

  1. the Yang di-Pertuan Besar (or Yamtuan Besar) of Negeri Sembilan (itself an elective monarchy)
  2. the Sultan of Selangor
  3. the Raja of Perlis
  4. the Sultan of Terengganu
  5. the Sultan of Kedah
  6. the Sultan of Kelantan
  7. the Sultan of Pahang
  8. the Sultan of Johor
  9. the Sultan of Perak

Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong

A Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong) is elected by the same process immediately after the YDP. The purpose of having a Deputy YDP is to exercise the functions of Yang di-Pertuan Agong during the king’s absence, or inability to exercise functions owing to illness or infirmity.

The Deputy YDP does not automatically advance to become the Yang di-Pertuan Agong when a vacancy occurs in the office. The Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong acts as the head of state before the elections of the new Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Roles

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong's role is that of a constitutional monarch. The Federal Constitution and Parliamentary Acts made in accordance with it define the extent of his powers as the Federal Head of State. The executive power of the federal government is vested in him.

The monarch's powers are basically divided into two broad categories:

  • the powers that he exercises on the advice of the Prime Minister, a Minister, the Cabinet, the Conference of Rulers, or some other officer or institution; and
  • the powers that he exercises at his discretion (without the consent of any other authority).

The discretionary powers of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong pertain chiefly to appointing the Prime Minister, dissolving Parliament, and calling meetings with the Conference of Rulers "concerned solely with the privileges, position, honours and dignities of Their Royal Highnesses." Under the Westminster System, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is expected to appoint a Prime Minister who will command the confidence of a majority of the elected lower house of Parliament, the Dewan Rakyat. Should the Prime Minister be or become unacceptable, he may be forced out by a vote of no confidence, which would require the King to appoint someone else. Conventionally, the Prime Minister is the head of the party with a majority in Parliament. Since independence in 1957, this has been the Barisan Nasional (National Front, formerly known as the Alliance).

The King renews the appointment of a Prime Minister after every general election until the minister decides to step down. Whenever the Prime Minister chooses to dissolve Parliament, he calls for a general election. The King may choose to refuse a Prime Minister's request to dissolve Parliament, as one of his discretionary powers.

Residences

The official residence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is Istana Negara (the National Palace) located in Jalan Syed Putra in the federal capital Kuala Lumpur. Other residences include the royal retreat, Istana Melawati(Melawati Palace) in the federal administrative capital Putrajaya. It is also the venue of meetings of the Conference of Rulers (Malay: Majlis Raja-raja), which elects the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Appointments

The King appoints numerous high-ranking office holders in the Federation under the terms of the Constitution and various Acts passed by Parliament. The constitution established procedures for such appointments.

The Council of Ministers (cabinet)

  • Prime Minister (Chairman of the Cabinet), at his discretion from among the elected members of the House of Representatives who belong to the majority party or coalition.
  • Ministers and Deputy Ministers (the second in command of a Ministry), on the advice of the Prime Minister.
  • Directors (in charge of the different sections in the various Ministries), on the advice of the Prime Minister.

Commissions and committees

  • The Election Commission, on the advice of the Conference of Rulers.
  • The Judicial and Legal Service Commission, after consultation with the Chief Justice
  • The Malaysian Public Service Commission at his discretion, after considering the advice of the Prime Minister and after consultation with the Conference of Rulers.

Judges

Senators

The King appoints 44 members of the Malaysian Senate.

State governors

The King appoints the Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Governors), of the states of Penang, Malacca, Sabah and Sarawak, at his discretion, after considering the advice of the state's Chief Minister.

The YDP also appoints the Mayor and City Council of Kuala Lumpur, which is a Federal Territory.

Head of Islam

In addition, the King is the Head of Islam in the four states ruled by appointed Governors: the three Federal Territories, as well as in his own state. In this role, he is advised by the State Islamic Affairs Council in each of the States.

The King appoints the Chairman and members of each council. He also appoints the State Mufti (Head Imam) in each of these states. There is a single Islamic Affairs Council with jurisdiction for the three Federal Territories. This council is also appointed by the King.

Commander-in-Chief

In accordance with Article 41 of the Federal Constitution, the King is Commander-in-Chief of the Federation's Armed Forces. As such, he is the highest-ranking officer in the military establishment.

As the Supreme Commander of the Malaysian Armed Forces, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong appoints the Chief of the Armed Forces Staff, on the advice of the Armed Forces Council. He also appoints the service heads of each of the three branches of the military.

Birthday and honours list

The King's birthday is officially celebrated as a national holiday on the first Saturday of June, regardless of the officeholder's actual birthday. On that day, an honours list is published. As part of the celebration, the King confers titles on distinguished members of the public.

In November 2006, the 10th Yang di-Pertuan Agong awarded, for the first time, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Scholarship to ten outstanding students to pursue postgraduate studies at high-ranking world universities. The award of scholarships was held at the Istana Negara in conjunction with the Independence Day celebrations and Council of Rulers Conference.[2]

History

In August 1957, having rejected the suggested title of Yang di-Pertuan Besar in favour of Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the Council of Rulers met to elect the first occupant of the throne. By seniority, the 84-year old major general Sultan Ibrahim, Sultan of Johor since 1895, was the appropriate candidate, but he declined due to old age. The next in line, Sultan Abu Bakar, Sultan of Pahang since 1932, was rejected (five times in total) by his fellow electors. Tuanku Abdul Rahman of Negeri Sembilan, having succeeded to his state throne in 1933, was elected by eight votes to one.

The first Council of Rulers were:

  1. Sultan Abu Bakar Riayatuddin Al-Muadzam Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdullah Al-Mutassim Billah Shah (Sultan of Pahang; 1932–1974);
  2. Tuanku Abdul Rahman ibni Almarhum Tuanku Muhammad (Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan; 1933–1960);
  3. Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah Al-Haj ibni Almarhum Sultan Alaeddin Sulaiman Shah (Sultan of Selangor; 1938–1942, 1945–1960);
  4. Sultan Badlishah ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah (Sultan of Kedah; 1943–1958);
  5. Sultan Ibrahim Petra ibni Almarhum Sultan Muhammad IV (Al-Sultan of Kelantan; 1944–1960);
  6. Tuanku Syed Putra ibni Almarhum Syed Hassan Jamalullail (Raja of Perlis; 1945–2000);
  7. Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Zainal Abidin III (Sultan of Terengganu; 1945–1979);
  8. Sultan Yusuf Izzudin Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Jalil Nasruddin shah (Sultan of Perak; 1948–1963); and
  9. Tunku Ismail ibni Sultan Ibrahim (Crown Prince or Tunku Mahkota of Johor; later Sultan 1959–1981).

List of Yang di-Pertuan Agong

The following Rulers have served as Yang di-Pertuan Agong:

No. Name State Reign Birth Death
1 Tuanku Abdul Rahman Negeri Sembilan 31 August 1957 – 1 April 1960 24 August 1895 1 April 1960
2 Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah Selangor 14 April 1960 – 1 September 1960 13 May 1898 1 September 1960
3 Tuanku Syed Putra Perlis 21 September 1960 – 20 September 1965 25 November 1920 16 April 2000
4 Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Terengganu 21 September 1965 – 20 September 1970 24 January 1907 20 September 1979
5 Tuanku Abdul Halim Kedah 21 September 1970  – 20 September 1975 28 November 1927
6 Sultan Yahya Petra Kelantan 21 September 1975 – 29 March 1979 10 December 1917 29 March 1979
7 Sultan Ahmad Shah Al-Mustain Billah Pahang 29 March 1979 – 25 April 1984 24 October 1930
8 Sultan Iskandar Johor 26 April 1984 – 25 April 1989 8 April 1932 22 January 2010
9 Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah Perak 26 April 1989 – 25 April 1994 19 April 1928
10 Tuanku Jaafar Negeri Sembilan 26 April 1994 – 25 April 1999 19 July 1922 27 December 2008
11 Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Selangor 26 April 1999 – 21 November 2001 8 March 1926 21 November 2001
12 Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Perlis 13 December 2001 – 12 December 2006 17 May 1943
13 Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Terengganu 13 December 2006 – present 22 January 1962

See also

References

  1. ^ "Malaysia's new king takes office", BBC, Thursday, 26 April 2007, 09:00 GMT 10:00 UK
  2. ^ "10 Students Awarded The Yang Di-Pertuan Agong Scholarship 2006", Bernama, accessed 11 Aug 2009

Further reading

  • Visu Sinnadurai, "His Majesty Sultan Azlan Shah: The Yang di-Pertuan Agong IX Malaysia", The Supreme Court Journal, Kuala Lumpur, ISSN 0128-066X. (Special issue to commemorate the installation of His Majesty Sultan Azlan Shah as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong IX Malaysia, with a lengthy description of the functions of the office)

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