Sultan Ibrahim crowned Malaysia’s 17th King

Sultan Ibrahim of Johor was installed as Malaysia’s 17th King, in a ceremony at the national palace in Kuala Lumpur.

Sultan Ibrahim, from Malaysia’s southern state of Johor, was officially installed as the country’s 17th king in a ceremony at the national palace in Kuala Lumpur. While Malaysia’s monarchy traditionally holds a ceremonial role, it has gained influence in recent years, leading the king to utilize discretionary powers to address political instability.

The unique Malaysian monarchy system involves the heads of the country’s nine royal families taking turns to serve as the “Yang di-Pertuan Agong” every five years. Sultan Ibrahim, aged 65, succeeds Al-Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, who now returns to lead his home state of Pahang after completing his five-year tenure as king.

Despite the monarchy’s apolitical stance, Sultan Ibrahim is known for his outspokenness and robust personality, frequently expressing opinions on political matters. His diverse interests include a notable collection of luxury cars and motorbikes, along with substantial business holdings ranging from real estate to mining. Notably, he has a stake in Forest City, a massive China-backed land reclamation and development project off Johor worth $100 billion.

In an interview with Singapore’s The Straits Times ahead of his installation, Sultan Ibrahim expressed his intention to be an active monarch. He proposed that Malaysia’s state oil firm, Petroliam Nasional, and the country’s anti-corruption agency should report directly to the king. Additionally, he discussed plans to revive a stalled high-speed rail link project between Malaysia and Singapore, with a border crossing through Forest City. While Sultan Ibrahim’s statements sparked attention, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim downplayed them, emphasizing that all opinions could be discussed within the framework of the federal constitution.

Sultan Ibrahim assumes the role of king amid renewed political tensions in Malaysia. Since the ousting of the Barisan Nasional coalition in 2018, the country has experienced ongoing political turmoil, prompting the monarchy to play a more significant role in addressing instability. While the king typically acts upon the advice of the prime minister and the cabinet, he holds discretionary powers under the federal constitution. These powers include the authority to appoint a prime minister deemed to command a parliamentary majority. Sultan Ibrahim’s predecessor, Al-Sultan Abdullah, exercised this power multiple times to navigate political uncertainties during his reign.

As Sultan Ibrahim takes on his duties, Malaysia faces calls for political stability, with numerous concerns. The king’s role is pivotal in ensuring a balanced and stable political landscape.