Malaysia's King Steps Down: Palace Statement

Sultan Muhammad V has stepped down as Malaysia’s king after a week of speculation about the monarch’s status following his two-month leave of absence

Malaysia's King Steps Down: Palace Statement

Sultan Muhammad V stepped down as Malaysia's king on Sunday (Jan 6) after just two years on the throne - marking a first in the country's history.

Just yesterday (6th January), Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan resigned as the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong after ruling for two years since 13th December 2016.

He is said to have married a 25-year-old former Russian beauty queen in November.

"To Malaysian citizens, Seri Paduka Baginda Tuanku has urged that they unite to maintain unity, be tolerant and together assume responsibility towards this sovereign country so that Malaysia continues to be in peace and harmony", he added.

Media has also reported some tension between the palace and the government of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad since the veteran leader returned to power a year ago.

Despite this, it is accorded considerable prestige, particularly among the country's Malay Muslim majority for whom the king is seen as upholding Malay and Islamic tradition. At the same time, the Prime Minister's media adviser Kadir Jasin also claimed that RM257 million (S$84.8 million) had been spent by the King during his 16-month reign.

The top job is passed between nine hereditary state rulers who hold it for five years each.

The proverbial straw that broke the camel's back was Sultan Muhammad V's secretive Nov 22 wedding to Russian beauty queen Oksana Voevodina (above). The Council of Rulers, composed of members from all nine royal households, decide the selection of the next king via a vote.

Earlier on Monday, Mahathir said the government hoped the council would elect a new king as soon as possible as the government needed to keep the king apprised on "certain matters", Bernama reported. Malaysia's Conference of Rulers will convene on January 24 to choose a successor, who will be inaugurated on January 31, state news agency Bernama reported.

He is the current deputy king and performed Muhammad V's duties after he went on medical leave at the start of November.

Among those wishing the former king well was scandal-plagued former premier Najib Razak, who wrote in a Facebook post: "We Malaysians pray for his health and that he is protected by Allah".

The palace made no mention of the reason for his resignation, saying Muhammad V has prepared to return to his home state of where he remains as sultan. Neither the sultan, the palace nor the government had officially confirmed the wedding.

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