MALAYSIA’S CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY
Malaysia practices parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarch. His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, is the Supreme Head of the country. The supreme institution in Malaysia is the Conference of Rulers (Majilis Raja-Raja), which is composed of the hereditary rulers of nine states in Peninsular Malaysia and four state governors appointed by the king. The nine hereditary rulers in the Conference of Rulers elect one of themselves as the “supreme sovereign” or king (Yang di-Pertuan Agong) who acts as head of state for a single five-year term. The deputy head of state is elected in the same manner and, although exercising no power, is available to fill the king’s position if the latter is absent or disabled.
The Conference of Rulers is the supreme institution in the country and unique because it is the only such institution in the world today. When the country achieved independence, the Conference of Rulers was constituted under Article 38 of the Federal Constitution. In accordance with the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution it shall exercise its functions of:
Dr Paridah Abd Samad wrote in the New Strait Times, ““Malaysia is an example of an elective monarchy, in which the supreme head of state, or "Yang di-Pertuan Agong", is elected to a five-year term by a "Conference of Rulers" who hold a secret ballot. Malaysia has acquired 14 Yang di-Pertuan Agong for 56 years since 1957. This explains the inconspicuous and the low profile of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong compared to life-long monarchs such as Emperor Akihito of Japan, Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah, ex-King Norodom Sihanouk and even King Abdullah II of Jordan.” [Source: Dr Paridah Abd Samad, New Strait Times, June 1, 2013]
Nine of Malaysia's thirteen states (the majority of states in peninsular Malaysia) are still officially ruled by sultans and tunkas (princes), who have retained some power and control over the land as outlined by the constitution although their positions are largely ceremonial. Their positions are hereditary.
After Mahathir Mohamad became Prime Minister in 1981, he strengthened his office by dramatically reducing the powers of the sultans and the king. The state sultans were once seen as potential counterweights to executive power. But their power has gradually eroded with constitutional amendments — the king’s veto power was stripped in 1983 and he was also not allowed to block bills passed by Parliament. A 1993 amendment stripped the country’s nine state sultans of immunity from prosecution.
Yang di-Pertuan Agong: the Malaysian King
The King of Malaysia, called the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (“He Who is Made Lord”), is a ceremonial position that is shared by nine different sultans who rotate the position every five years. For ethnic Malay Muslims the king is the supreme upholder of Malay tradition and the symbolic head of Islam -- a legacy that dates back to the early 15th century. Yellow is the color of the king. It is featured on the Malaysian flag. The royal crest has two tigers. The current king who took the throne in 2011, is Malaysia’s 14th.
The duties of the king are somewhat similar to those of the British monarch. He is the nominal head of the government and armed forces. All laws and cabinet appointments require his assent. The prime minister customarily meets with the king before announcing the dissolution of parliament. The king is also considered the head of the Muslim faith in Malaysia. He has the power to pardon criminals.
According to Associated Press: “Under a unique system maintained since Malaysia's independence from Britain in 1957, nine hereditary state rulers take turns as the country's king for five-year terms. The monarch's role is largely ceremonial, since administrative power is vested in the prime minister and parliament. But the position is highly regarded, particularly among the ethnic Malay Muslim majority, as the supreme upholder of Malay tradition and symbolic head of Islam. His roles include appointing cabinet ministers and senior judges on the advice of the prime minister. He also appoints top Islamic clerics and is considered the highest ranking figure in the armed forces. Public criticism of the king and state sultans is more or less illegal. Under Malaysian sedition laws people who incite "hatred or contempt" towards the monarchy can be imprisoned for three years.
The king is selected in a secret meeting by the Conference of Rulers, comprised of the nine state sultans. When a sultan becomes king there is an investiture ceremony that features a swearing in in the throne room of Istana Negara Palace, a 21-gun salute and Muslim prayers. If he dies while serving his tenure as king he is given a grand royal funeral and buried in the royal mausoleum in Klang.
According to the Malaysian Government: “The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is the Supreme Head of State as provided by the Constitution. The full title for His Majesty is Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The King performs his official duties upon the advice of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet as provided for by the Constitution. His Majesty also holds the position of Islamic Religious Head for the States of Penang, Malacca, Sabah, Sarawak, and the Federal Territories. As Malaysia's Supreme Head of State, the King is also the Supreme Commander of the Malaysian Armed Forces. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is elected every five years in accordance with a rotating succession system determined by the Conference of Rulers. [Source: Malaysian Government]
Dr Paridah Abd Samad wrote in the New Strait Times, “The first Saturday of June is mandated by the Malaysian Constitution as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's official birthday. It is not every day that a Ruler gets to inherit a monarchy twice in his life, but this was experienced by Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah. The 84 year old assumed the Malaysian throne in accordance to this country's electoral monarchy system. Sultan Abdul Halim was the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for the first time in 1970. This is the first time in Malaysian history that a Ruler became head of state for the second time. He is not only Malaysia's 14th King, but also its oldest ever. [Source: Dr Paridah Abd Samad, New Strait Times, June 1, 2013]
Malaysia's Constitutional Monarchy Still Relevant?
According to the official website of the Malaysian monarchy: “The monarchy is seen as a symbol of power, authority, and government. It is an embodiment of strength, protection and justice for the people and personifies their love and loyalty towards the country. In countries, which practice parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy, the power of the people is conveyed through Parliament which in turn delegates its executive power to the Cabinet. In Malaysia, whatever action is taken by an authority is executed in the name of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong who acts on the advice of the Government. [Source: malaysianmonarchy.org]
Philip Bowring wrote in the International Herald Tribune, “Malaysia's unique system of rotating the crown every five years among nine hereditary state sultans ensures that the institution remains almost entirely symbolic. Most Malaysians have trouble remembering who is king. Such political influence as the sultans once enjoyed was largely stripped away when some atrocious personal behavior by certain royals provided then Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad with the occasion to downgrade their role, which nominally still includes being head of Islam as well as head of state. [Source: Philip Bowring, International Herald Tribune, December 14, 2006]
Malay monarchs are traditionally more national than communal in their outlook compared to racial-based political parties. Dr Paridah Abd Samad wrote in the New Strait Times, “Although the role of king in Malaysia is largely ceremonial, he is looked upon by Muslim Malaysians as a symbol of Islam. He is also seen as the upholder of Malaysian traditions. The King's greatest role is to ensure there will be no cruelty and destruction to the people and to the country. At both federal and state levels, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the states' Malay rulers are theoretically constitutional monarchs. Unlike the figureheads who stay above the fray in the Bagehotian sense, the Malay monarchs are, however, tasked to protect the interests of the Malays and Islam. [Source: Dr Paridah Abd Samad, New Strait Times, June 1, 2013 +++]
“In theory, this could compromise their impartiality in the context of ethno-religious conflicts. In reality, free from electoral pressures to play communal champions, the Malay monarchs are traditionally more national than communal in their outlook compared to racial-based political parties. Since the existence of this constitutional monarch, the political conflicts involving the Malay rulers are in fact not inter-ethnic but rather intra-ethnic, between them and the politicians. Before Malaya's independence in 1957, the Malay nationalist party initially defended the royals and the feudal order opposed by the Malay leftists who were much influenced by republican Indonesia. +++
“ Despite their ceremonial roles, the relevance of Malaysia's constitutional monarch will be tested when a constitutional crisis arises. As a symbol of religion and tradition, but most importantly a key figure for national unity and loyalty of their subjects, the "Daulat Tuanku" is here to stay, and more likely for the better. +++
Malaysia's King Compared to Other Monarchs in Asia
Philip Bowring wrote in the International Herald Tribune, “The monarch of Malaysia probably has even less political power than the bike-riding sovereigns of Scandinavia. But the installation of a new Yang di-Pertuan Agong (king) in Kuala Lumpur is a reminder of the number of actual and would-be monarchies in East Asia, and their varying roles. Looking a little nervously at Malaysia, however, is the Sultan of Brunei, the last absolute monarch in Asia east of the Gulf. Once a vast sultanate encompassing large parts of what are now Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia, Brunei may have to reinvent itself if it is to survive the exhaustion of its oil wealth. [Source: Philip Bowring, International Herald Tribune, December 14, 2006 /*/]
“If the Malaysian monarchies are harmless if costly luxuries opposed by almost nobody, that of Nepal must surely be closest to the brink. The attempt of the inept King Gyanendra to rule directly, confronting democrats and Maoists alike, ended in failure. It now seems likely that the monarchy will be voted out of existence. Few would have thought that possible just a few years ago when the popular King Birendra, assassinated in 2001, was on the throne and endeavoring to be democratic. /*/
“The Nepal experience could be relevant to Thailand. After 60 years on the throne, King Bhumibol Adulyadej's prestige has never been higher, nor his political influence greater (the palace overtly supported the recent coup makers). Yet the Thai monarchy has come close to extinction before, whether at the hands of democrats or generals, so Bhumipol's successor, whoever that may be, will need to understand that a monarch's political power in a modern state is more earned than inherited. But if Thailand has a succession problem, it may well be the envy of the Burmese. Might a restoration of their monarchy, in abeyance since the British sent King Thibaw into exile in 1885, be one way of bridging the divide between the generals and Aung San Suu Kyi's democrats? /*/
Descendants of Thibaw are still around, as are descendants of the last emperor of South Korea. The Korean monarchy was tainted by Japan's attempt at absorbing it. Nonetheless, throne claimants exist and may yet attract support from Koreans looking for symbols to bridge the divide between a fiercely republican and democratic South and the Communist dynasty in the North. And if the Japanese can hang on to their monarchy, will not Koreans want one too? /*/
“Small countries at least may benefit from the sense of identity provided by monarchs. It is debatable whether the volatile King Sihanouk was a net plus for Cambodia but he has at least succeeded in passing the crown — if not any power — to his son King Sihamoni. Might the Lao decide to revive their monarch as a way of reinforcing their identity vis-à-vis much bigger neighbors? As the revolutionary generation that killed off the monarchy in 1975 dies away, maybe a royal personage will return to reign from the royal capital (and UN heritage site) Luang Prabang. /*/
“Few Vietnamese harbor sentimental attachments to their last emperor, Bao Dai, who had the misfortune to be squeezed between the Communists, the French and the ambitions of U.S.-backed Ngo Dinh Diem, who deposed him in 1955. But the time will surely come one day for a revision of Vietnamese history and the presentation of Bao Dai as no less a patriot than Ho Chi Minh. A monarchy would even be useful in reminding their giant neighbor, China, that its last emperors were Manchu- speaking barbarians.” /*/
Dr Paridah Abd Samad wrote in the New Strait Times, ““In Cambodia, kings are chosen from all candidates of royal blood by the "Royal Council of the Throne". Today, Cambodia has a new king, but, he holds little of the power that ex-King Norodom Sihanouk once wielded. Instead, a poor farmer's son and one-time communist commander, strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen, now occupies the dominant position that Norodom Sihanouk represented for years. Sihanouk's death raised questions about the future of the country's royal institution, but Cambodia's monarchy continues to flourish. King Sihamoni has grown into the role of figurehead, presenting himself as a less volatile symbol of the Khmer nation and national reconciliation. The new king has proven a worthy successor. [Source: Dr Paridah Abd Samad, New Strait Times, June 1, 2013 +++]
“Under Brunei's 1959 constitution, the Sultan of Brunei is the head of state with full executive authority, including emergency powers, since 1962. The Prime Minister of Brunei is a title held by the Sultan. As the prime minister, the Sultan presides over the cabinet. In Singapore the majority of population is Chinese. In 1965, broke away from Malaysia and opted to be a republic, abolishing any system of royalty or aristocracy, titles, pomp and ceremony. +++
Malaysian King Verus Malaysian Prime Minister
In March 2008, there was a bitter dispute between Malaysia’s prime minister and its king in an over the appointment of a state leader. Associated Press reported: “The royal row in Terengganu state is the first time that Malaysia’s constitutional monarchy has openly come in conflict with the political leadership, adding to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s numerous headaches. His latest problem is over the appointment of the chief minister of the northeastern state of Terengganu, where the National Front won the election. Abdullah’s United Malays National Organization, the main party in the National Front, wants incumbent Idris Jusoh to continue leading the state. But the palace of Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, who is the titular head of Terengganu as well as the current king of Malaysia, appointed Ahmad Said, another UMNO lawmaker, as the chief minister on Saturday, taking the country by surprise. [Source: AP, March 24, 2008 *-*]
“Usually, the rulers of Malaysian states appoint the choice of the party with a majority in the state legislature. It is not clear if the king has the power to overrule the prime minister, but UMNO has vowed to block Ahmad’s installation by throwing him out of the party. UMNO representative Rosol Wahid said Abdullah would decide in the party’s Supreme Council meeting Thursday whether to expel Ahmad. “We are waiting for the P.M. decision to sack him,” Rosol told The Associated Press. “Of course, we are altogether … standing behind Idris. He delivered the job (during his previous term). We need him to make sure our program for the next years goes on.” *-*
“Idris is believed to have the support of a majority of UMNO lawmakers in the state legislature. Because he is currently serving as king, Mizan did not personally make the controversial appointment, leaving the job to his advisory council led by his brother. Nevertheless, the conflict seems to be fueled by a personal fallout between Mizan and Idris. Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail is expected to seek an audience with the Terengganu palace to explain that because Idris commands the majority support, it is unconstitutional to appoint anyone but him. But the palace insists Ahmad’s appointment is constitutional. *-*
“Malaysia’s monarchy has mainly a ceremonial function, giving its consent to decisions made by the government. But lately, the country’s royalty has taken a more independent stance. In a similar situation, the palace in northern Perlis state also rejected Abdullah’s nomination for chief minister last week and swore in another assemblyman, though with the support from the state’s lawmakers. *-*
Status of the King and Deputy King Under the Malaysian Constitution
Article 32 of the Federal Constitution provides the status of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Raja Permaisuri Agong as follows: "32. Supreme Head of the Federation, and his Consort: 1) There shall be a Supreme Head of the Federation, to be called the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, who shall take precedence over all persons in the Federation and shall not be liable to any proceedings in any court except in the Special Court established under Part XV.2) The Consort of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (to be called the Raja Permaisuri Agong) shall take precedence next after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong over all other persons in the Federation . 3) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall be elected by the Conference of Rulers for a term of five years, but may at any time resign his office by writing under his hand addressed to the Conference of Rulers or shall be removed from office by the Conference of Rulers, and shall cease to hold office on ceasing to be a Ruler. 4) The provisions of Part I and III of the Third Schedule shall apply to the election and removal of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong".
Article 33 of the Federal Constitution provides for the status of the Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong as follows: "33. Deputy Supreme Head of the Federation 1) There shall be a Deputy Supreme Head of the Federation (to be called the Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong) who shall exercise the functions and have the privileges of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong during any vacancy in the office of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and during any period during which the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is unable to exercise the functions of his office owing to illness, absence from the Federation or any other cause, but the Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall not exercise these functions during any inability or absence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong which is expected to be less than fifteen days, unless the Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient to exercise such functions. 2) The Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall be elected by the Conference of Rulers for a term of five years, or if elected during the term for which the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was elected, for the remainder of that term, but may at any time resign his office by writing under his hand addressed to the Conference of Rulers and shall cease to hold office on ceasing to be a Ruler. 3) If during the term for which the Timblan Yang di-Pertuan Agong was elected a vacancy occurs in the office of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, his term shall expire on the cessation of the vacancy. 4) The provisions of Part II of the Third Schedule shall apply to the election of the Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong. 5) Parliament may by law provide for the exercise by a Ruler of the functions of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in cases where those functions would under Clause (1) fall to be exercised by the Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong but cannot be so exercised owing to a vacancy in the office of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or to his illness, absence from the Federation or to any other cause; but such a law shall not be passed without the consent of the Conference of Rulers.
Selection of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong
In August 1957, the Conference of Rulers consented to the adoption of the title “Yang di-Pertuan Agong” for the Head of the Federation of Malaya, who must be elected based on the longest reign among the Malay Rulers. Based on this criterion, Sultan of Johor, Sultan Sir Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Abu Bakar, who was installed in 1895, was the longest reigning Ruler. However, the Sultan, who was 84 years old then, abdicated the throne owing to his age. Second in the order, Sultan Sir Abu Bakar Riayatuddin Al-Muadzam Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdullah Al-Mutassim Billah Shah who became Sultan of Pahang in 1932, also declined the nomination. Accordingly, the third longest reigning Ruler, Tuanku Abdul Rahman Ibni Almarhum Tuanku Muhammad of Negeri Sembilan was unanimously elected as the first Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Tuanku Abdul Rahman took the throne of Negeri Sembilan in 1933. [Source: Malaysian Government]
What is unique about the monarchical system in Malaysia is that the Yang di- Pertuan Agong is elected by the Conference of Rulers in accordance with the procedure spelt out in the Third Schedule of the Federal Constitution and the rules of the Conference of Rulers.
Election Proceedings: 1) When the Conference of Rulers deliberates on the election of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the Governors (Yang di-Pertua Negeri) will not be present even though they are Members of the Conference. 2) The election is carried out by a secret ballot. 3) The ballot papers will be destroyed in the presence of the Rulers as soon as the result of the election result is announced. 4) The ballot papers used are not numbered, but marked with the same pen and ink, and are inserted into the ballot box. 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. 5) Only the Rulers, the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal and the Assistant Secretary of the Conference of Rulers are involved in the election proceedings. 6) A Ruler may appoint another Ruler as his proxy to vote on his behalf in the event that he is unable to be present at the Election Meeting.
During the process of the election, the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal will distribute the ballot papers to the Rulers, and each Ruler will be requested to indicate (on the ballot paper) whether the most senior Ruler (one name only) is suitable/not suitable to be elected as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The nominee must have obtained the majority of five votes before the Ruler presiding over the Election Meeting offers the office of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to him. If the successful nominee declines the offer or the Ruler fails to secure the required majority votes, the voting process will be repeated with the nomination of the second most senior Ruler in the Seniority List of Rulers. The process will only be completed after the Ruler has accepted the offer of the office of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The Conference will then declare the Ruler as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong who will hold office for a term of five years.
After the completion of the elections, the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal will write to the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Prime Minister, informing them of the results of the elections. The Prime Minister will issue a press statement announcing the results of the elections of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall only exercise their official duties after they have subscribed to their oath of office in a ceremony before the Conference of Rulers and in the presence of the Chief Justice of the Federal Court and the oath shall be attested to by two Rulers appointed for the purpose by the Conference of Rulers.
Oath Of Office of the Malaysian King
In accordance with Article 37 (1) of the Federal Constitution, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall before exercising his functions take and subscribe to the oath of office. The oath of office shall be subscribed before the Conference of Rulers and in the presence of the Chief Justice of the Federal Court. If the Chief Justice of the Federal Court is not available, the next senior judge of the Federal Court shall be present for the occasion. The oath of office shall be attested by two Rulers appointed for the purpose by the Conference of Rulers.
We........................................... Ibni........................................... Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia do hereby swear: Wallahi; Wabillahi; Watallahi; and by virtue of that oath do solemnly and truly declare that We shall justly and faithfully perform (carry out) our duties in the administration of Malaysia in accordance with its laws and constitution which have been promulgated or which may be promulgated from time to time in the future. Further We do solemnly and truly declare that We shall at all times protect the Religion of Islam and uphold the rules of law and order in the Country.
Conference Of Rulers In Malaysia
The Conference of Rulers was formally instituted in 1948, as a result of the British design to replace the Council of Rulers of the Federated Malay States, also known as Durbar – Council of the Malay Rulers which was first convened in Kuala Kangsar in 1897. Four Malay Rulers of the states of Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang were members of the Council which was chaired by the British High Commissioner. Durbar originates from an Urdu-Persian word (Darbar) which means king’s palace. The word “Darbar” also all referred to meetings or conferences convened by the Rajahs, governors or the British Viceroy in India in those days. The Conference of Rulers was convened for the first time on 31st August 1948 and held until 1st September. The meeting then was for the first time attended by all the nine Malay Rulers. [Source: malaysianmonarchy.org ]
When the Conference of Rulers deliberates on matters of national policy, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall be accompanied by the Prime Minister, and the other Rulers and Governors (Yang di-Pertua Negeri) by their Menteri Besar or Chief Ministers. No law directly affecting the privileges, position, honor or dignity of the Rulers shall be passed without the consent of the Conference of Rulers. The Conference of Rulers shall be consulted before any change is made in administrative policy under Article 153 (with regards to the special position and privileges of the Malays and natives and the rights of other communities).
All Rulers and the Yang Dipertua Negeri are automatically members of the Conference of Rulers. The chairman for the proceedings of the Conference of Rulers is one of the nine Malay Rulers appointed on a rotational basis. The Conference of Rulers is convened three times a year. However, the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal may convene the Conference of Rulers whenever he is required to do so by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The Meeting Room for the Conference of Rulers is at the Istana Negara; but the proceedings may also be held at other venues consented to by the Conference.
Status And Powers Of The Yang di-Pertuan Agong
Article 32(1) of the Federal Constitution provides that there shall be a Supreme Head of the Federation to be called the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. His Majesty shall take precedence over all persons in the Federation and shall not be liable to any proceedings whatsoever in any court except in the Special Court established under Part XV (Articles 182 and 183). The Constitution also provides that the Raja Permaisuri Agong shall take precedence next after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Articles 32(1) and 32(2) of the Federal Constitution state that: 1) There shall be a Supreme Head of the Federation, to be called the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, who shall take precedence over all persons in the Federation and shall not be liable to any proceedings whatsoever in any court except in the Special Court established under Part XV. 2) The Consort of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (to be called the Raja Permaisuri Agong) shall take precedence next after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong over all other persons in the Federation”
Articles 182 and 183 of the Federal Constitution provide that: 1) There shall be a court which shall be known as the Special Court and shall consist of the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, who shall be the Chairman, the Chief Judges of the High Courts, and two other persons who hold or have held office as judge of the Federal Court or High Court appointed by the Conference of Rulers. 2) Any proceedings by or against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the Ruler of a State in his personal capacity shall be brought in a Special Court established under Clause (1). 3) The Special Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction to try all offences committed in the Federation by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the Ruler of a State and all civil cases by or against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the Ruler of a State notwithstanding where the cause of action arose. 4) The Special Court shall have the same jurisdiction and powers as are vested in the inferior courts, the High Court and the Federal Court by this Constitution or any federal law and shall have its registry in Kuala Lumpur.
Executive Functions of the Malaysian King
Although the Constitution (Article 39) accords the Yang di-Pertuan Agong with executive authority, subject to the provisions of any federal law and of the Second Schedule of the Constitution, Parliament may by law confer executive functions on other persons. Except as otherwise provided for by the Constitution as regards his position and authority, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong usually acts in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet or more specifically, of the Prime Minister, in the exercise of his functions. However, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is entitled to and at his request, any information concerning the government of the Federation which is available to the Cabinet. [Source: malaysianmonarchy.org ]
Although the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is to act on the advice of the Cabinet or of a Minister or after consultation with or on the recommendation of any person or body of persons (other than the Cabinet), His Majesty may act in his discretion in the performance of the three following functions, that is to say: 1) The appointment of a Prime Minister; 2) Consent or the withholding of consent to a request for the dissolution of Parliament; 3) The requisition of a meeting of the Conference of Rulers concerned solely with the privileges, position, honor and dignity of Their Royal Highnesses, and any actions at such a meeting.
The appointment of a person (a member of Parliament) as the Prime Minister is based on his ability to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the House of Representatives. The appointment of members of the Cabinet and Deputy Ministers is made on the advice of the Prime Minister.
Article 39 of the Federal Constitution on the Executive Authority of Federation statea that: The executive authority of the Federation shall be vested in the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and exercisable subject to the provision of any federal law and of the Second Schedule, by him or by the Cabinet or any Minister authorized by the Cabinet, but Parliament may by law confer executive functions on other persons."
Legislative Functions of the Malaysian King
The legislative authority of the Federation shall be vested in a Parliament, which shall consist of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and two Houses (Houses of Parliament) to be known as the Dewan Negara (Senate) and the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives). Since the institution of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is a component of the Parliament, His Majesty is empowered to exercise the following: 1) Summon for the sittings of Parliament from time to time; 2) Prorogation and dissolution of Parliament; 3) Delivering of the Royal address in any of the two Houses or the two Houses of Parliament during the sitting of both Houses together; and 4) Granting of assent to the Bills. [Source: malaysianmonarchy.org ]
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is also vested with the authority to appoint two members of the Senate for the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and one member for the Federal Territory of Labuan. Apart from these members, forty other members of the Senate shall be appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
The members of the Senate to be appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall be persons who in His Majesty’s opinion are reputable personalities in their communities and have contributed significantly to the society. Other than the distinguished personalities in the fields of economy, commerce, industry, agriculture, cultural and social activities, reputable personalities representing the minority groups such as aborigines, may also be appointed as members of the Senate.
Article 44 of the Malaysian Constitution on Constitution of Parliament states: “The legislative authority of the Federation shall be vested in a Parliament, which shall consist of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and two Majlis (Houses of Parliament) to be known as the Dewan Negara (Senate) and the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives)." Part of Article 45 on the Composition of the Senate states: 1) (a) two members for the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, one member for the Federal Territory of Labuan and one member for the Federal Territory of Putrajaya shall be appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong; and (b) forty members shall be appointed by the Yang di Pertuan Agong. 2) The members to be appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall be persons who in his opinion have rendered distinguished public service or have achieved distinction in the professions, commerce, industry, agriculture, cultural activities or social service or are representative of racial minorities or are capable of representing the interests of aborigines.
Judicial Functions of the Malaysian King
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong also plays a significant role in the judiciary. It is the responsibility of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to appoint the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, the President of the Court of Appeal, the Chief Judge of Malaya, the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, the judges of the Federal Court, the judges of the Court of Appeal and the judges of the High Courts on the advice of the Prime Minister after consultation with the Conference of Rulers. His Majesty may also appoint any person qualified as a judge of the High Court to be a Judicial Commissioner (who has the powers of a High Court judge) on the advice of the Prime Minister after consultation with the Chief Justice of the Federal Court (a transitional stage before being appointed as a High Court Judge.) [Source: malaysianmonarchy.org ]
Apart from the abovementioned powers, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may also extend the tenure of office of a judge who has reached the age of 65 years. However, such extension shall not exceed six months after he has attained the age of 65 years. A judge of the Federal Court may resign his office at any time by writing under his hand addressed to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
On the matter of removing a judge from office, the Federal Constitution provides that the Prime Minister or the Chief Justice of the Federal Court after consulting the Prime Minister may make representations to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong that a judge of the Federal Court ought to be removed from office on the grounds of breach of any provisions of the code of ethics or on the grounds of inability to discharge the functions of his office owing to infirmity of body or mind or any other cause. After receiving such representations the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall appoint a tribunal and may on the recommendation of the tribunal remove the judge from office.
It should be noted that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is not vested with the authority to remove a judge from office of his own free will. Only after receiving representations made by the Prime Minister or the Chief Justice of the Federal Court and on the recommendation of the tribunal, may the Yang di-Pertuan Agong remove a judge from office. However, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may act in his discretion to either accept or reject the recommendation of the tribunal to remove a judge or to allow the judge to continue in his office.
Proclamation of Emergency by the Malaysian King
His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong having been satisfied, in accordance with Article 150 of the Federal Constitution, that a grave state of emergency exists threatening the security, life, economy or public order in the Federation or in the States, may issue a Proclamation of Emergency.
Article 150 of the Constitution on the Proclamation of Emergency provides that: 1) If the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is satisfied that a grave emergency exists whereby the security, or the economic life, or public order in the Federation or any part thereof is threatened, he may issue a Proclamation of Emergency making therein a declaration to that effect. 2) A Proclamation of Emergency under Clause (1) may be issued before the actual occurrence of the event which threatens the security, or the economic life, or public order in the Federation or any part thereof if the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is satisfied that there is imminent danger of the occurrence of such event. (2a) The power conferred on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong by this Article shall include the power to issue different Proclamations on different grounds or in different circumstances, whether or not there is a Proclamation or Proclamations already issued by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong under Clause (1) and such Proclamation or Proclamations are in operation.
2b) If at any time while a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation, except when both Houses of Parliament are sitting concurrently, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is satisfied that certain circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action, he may promulgate such ordinances as circumstances appear to him to require. (2c) An ordinance promulgated under Clause (2b) shall have the same force and effect as an Act of Parliament, and shall continue in full force and effect as if it is an Act of Parliament until it is revoked or annulled under Clause (3) or until it lapses under Clause (7); and the power of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to promulgate ordinances under Clause (2b) may be exercised in relation to any matter with respect to which Parliament has power to make laws, regardless of the legislative or other procedures required to be followed, or the proportion of the total votes required to be had, in either House of Parliament.
3) A Proclamation of Emergency and any ordinance promulgated under Clause (2b) shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament and, if not sooner revoked, shall cease to have effect if resolutions are passed by both Houses annulling such Proclamation or ordinance, but without prejudice to anything previously done by virtue thereof or to the power of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to issue a new Proclamation under Clause (1) or promulgate any ordinance under Clause (2b). (4) While a Proclamation of Emergency is in force the executive authority of the Federation shall, notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, extend to any matter within the legislative authority of a State and to the giving of directions to the Government of a State or to any officer of authority thereof.
5) Subject to Clause (6a), while a Proclamation of Emergency is in force, Parliament may, notwithstanding anything in this Constitution make laws with respect to any matter, if it appears to Parliament that the law is required by reason of the emergency; and Article 79 shall not apply to a Bill for such a law or an amendment to such a Bill, nor shall any provision of this Constitution or of any written law which requires any consent or concurrence to the passing of a law or any consultation with respect thereto, or which restricts the coming into force of a law after it is passed or the presentation of a Bill to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for his assent.
6) Subject to Clause (6a), no provision of any ordinance promulgated under this Article, and no provision of any Act of Parliament which is passed while a Proclamation of Emergency is in force and which declares that the law appears to Parliament to be required by reason of the emergency, shall be invalid on the ground of inconsistency with any provision of this Constitution. (6a) Clause (5) shall not extend the powers of Parliament with respect to any matter of Islamic law or the custom of the Malays, or with respect to any matter of native law or customs in the State of Sabah or Sarawak; nor shall Clause (6) validate any provision inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution relating to any such matter or relating to religion, citizenship, or language.
Malaysian King as Head of Islam in Malaysia
Article 3 of the Federal Constitution requires that the Constitutions of the States of Malacca, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak make provisions for conferring on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong the position of Head of the religion of Islam in the States. His Majesty is also the Head of the religion of Islam in the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan and in his own State. He may also appoint persons to occupy certain posts for the States of Penang, Malacca and the Federal Territories on the advice of the Council of the religion of Islam in these States. For the States of Sabah and Sarawak the power to appoint such persons has been delegated to the Yang di-Pertua Negeri by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. [Source: malaysianmonarchy.org ].
Article 3 of the Federal Constitution on Religion of the Federation provides that: “1) Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation. 2) In every State other than States not having a Ruler the position of the Ruler as the Head of the religion of Islam in his State in the manner and to the extent acknowledged and declared by the Constitution of that State, and subject to that Constitution, all rights, privileges, prerogatives and powers enjoyed by him as Head of that religion, are unaffected and unimpaired; but in any acts, observances or ceremonies with respect to which the Conference of Rulers has agreed that they should extend to the Federation as a whole each of the other Rulers shall in his capacity of Head of religion of Islam authorise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to represent him.
Other Important Duties Of The Yang di-Pertuan Agong
Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Article 41 of the Constitution states: The Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall be the Supreme Commander of the armed forces of the Federation." [Source: malaysianmonarchy.org ]
Power of Pardon: The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is also seen as the fountain of mercy. He is vested with the power to grant pardons and reprieves in respect of offences triable by court-martial and all offences committed in the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Labuan. This is provided for in Article 42 of the Federal Constitution as follows: (1) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong has power to grant pardons, reprieves and respites in respect of all offences which have been tried by court-martial and all offences committed in the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya; and the Ruler or Governor of a State has power to grant pardons, reprieves and respites in respect of all other offences committed in his State."
(2) Subject to Clause (10), and without prejudice to any provision of federal law relating to remission of sentences for good conduct or special services, any power conferred by federal or State law to remit, suspend or commute sentences for any offence shall be exercisable by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong if the sentence was passed by a court-martial or by a civil court exercising jurisdiction in the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya and in any other case shall be exercisable by the Ruler or Governor of the State in which the offence was committed.
(3) Where an offence was committed wholly or partly outside the Federation or in more than one State or in circumstances which make it doubtful where it was committed, it shall be treated for the purposes of this Article as having been committed in the State in which it was tried. For the purpose of this Clause the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, the Federal Territory of Labuan and the Federal Territory of Putrajaya, as the case may be, shall each be regarded as a State.
The Special Position of the Malays and Natives of Sabah and Sarawak One of the important duties of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak. This is clearly stated in Article 153 (1) of the Federal Constitution as follows: "153. Reservation of quotas in respect of services, permits etc., for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak. (1) It shall be the responsibility of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of other communities in accordance with the provisions of this Article.”
Symbol of Honour and Dignity: His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is seen as the symbol of honour and dignity. He confers awards and honours on citizens and non-citizens, and honours of the highest distinction on oreign heads of states during the investiture ceremony held in conjunction with His Majesty’s birthday.
Diplomatic Functions: As the Head of State the Yang di-Pertuan Agong appoints diplomats to serve in foreign countries and grants audience to foreign diplomats who are to serve in Malaysia before undertaking their duties. Apart from performing his day-to-day functions and duties His Majesty also graces various social gatherings and official ceremonies.
Eighty-Four-Year-Old Sultan Crowned Malaysia's King in 2011
The current king of Malaysia—Yang di-Pertuan Agong XIV—is named AlMu'tasimu Billahi Muhibuddin Tuanku AlHaj Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah Ini AlMarhum Sultan Badlishah. He is the Sultan of Kedah state. In December, 2011, he was named king for the second time and became the oldest constitutional monarch in Malaysian history.
Associated Press reported: “Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah took his oath of office in a nationally televised ceremony attended by hundreds of dignitaries in Malaysia's new federal palace. "The king is the umbrella to the people and the people are the pillars of the king," Sultan Abdul Halim said in comments issued through the national news agency, Bernama. "The king's greatest role is to ensure there will be no cruelty and destruction to the people and to the country." [Source: Associated Press, December 13, 2011]
Wearing black and yellow regalia, the king was sworn in after inspecting a military honour guard and receiving a 21-gun salute at parliament. Abdul Halim, an avid golfer and sports fan, is the constitutional ruler of Malaysia's northern Kedah state, nicknamed the country's rice bowl because of its vast paddy fields. Besides being Malaysia's 14th and oldest king, Abdul Halim is the first to ascend the throne twice. He was also king between 1970 and 1975, when the father of Malaysia's current prime minister, Najib Razak, was premier. He succeeds Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, 49, who was one of Malaysia's youngest kings.
The new king is in robust health for his age. In 2006 he walked more than a mile to a stadium to watch his state's football team in a tournament because his car was caught in traffic. Abdul Halim, who was installed as ruler of his state in 1958, has been described by his family as a caring leader and a fan of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Nat King Cole. Malaysian media noted that when Abdul Halim became king in 1970 he had to travel by train from Kedah to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's largest city. On Tuesday he took a flight and was bid farewell by an estimated 30,000 people who thronged the roads to Kedah's airport.
Malaysia's 13th King Takes Office in 200
7In April 2007, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin lifted the ceremonial 'keris" (dagger) at the national palace in Kuala Lumpur, in a ceremony steeped in Malay tradition and was sworn in as Malaysia’s 13th king and one of Malaysia's youngest ever heads of state. News agencies reported: “The king, known as Yang di-Pertuan Agong or He Who Is Made Lord, formally took office at a ceremony in the throne room of the national palace. The sultan is the former ruler of the oil-rich Terengganu state, which sent a royal court orchestra to play traditional music during the ceremony. Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, 45, was sworn in to the post in December, as King Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin's five-year term as monarch ended. The stock market is closed and civil servants are having the day off. [Source: BBC April 26, 2007]
The king - dressed in a black ceremonial robe embroidered in gold and royal headdress - and his queen, Nur Zahirah, were seated on the thrones. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi proclaimed Sultan Mizan the 13th king, before an audience of the country's other sultans and government ministers.
Sultan Mizan was then presented with the royal long dagger - a symbol of power and authority - which the king drew and kissed. He pledged to rule fairly, uphold the Islamic faith and ensure just government. A 21-gun salute followed. Sultan Mizan is one of the youngest heads of state Malaysia has ever had - and he is already making changes, the BBC's Jonathan Kent in Kuala Lumpur says. Royal functions will now finish by 2230, so people can get to bed early. The new king is known to enjoy sports more than parties, is a keen horseman and enjoys a round of golf, our correspondent adds.
Thirteenth King of Malaysia
Yang di-Pertuan Agong XIII—the king of Malaysia from 2006 to 2011—is the Sultan of Terengganu. His name is Al-Wathiqu Billah Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Mahmud Al-Muktafi Billah Shah. [Source: malaysianmonarchy.org ]
On 13 December 2006, Duli Yang Maha Mulia Sultan Mizan Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Mahmud Shah (His Royal Highness the Sultan of Terengganu) performed the oath of office and the signing of declaration of office as His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the successor to Duli Yang Maha Mulia Tuanku Raja Perlis Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Ibni Almarhum Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail (His Royal Highness the Raja of Perlis). Simultaneously to this event, was the proclamation of His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Wathiqu Billah Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin as the new Chancellor of Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), on 5 March 2007.
His Majesty is blessed with leadership qualities. His Majesty always places great attention towards the unity, harmony and prosperity of his people, the rakyat. His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Wathiqu Billah Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin takes every opportunity to be closer to his people by establishing genuine relationship with his rakyat, thus, been given the name The People’s King. To establish close relationship between the people and the Istana (royalties and their members), His Majesty performs Friday Prayers with the rakyat at various mosques throughout Terengganu.
In religious context, His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong embraces the importance of Islamic virtues and practice. Part of this was manifested in 2003 through his pilgrimage to perform the Haj in the Holy City of Mecca with Her Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah along with Duli Yang Teramat Mulia Yang di-Pertuan Muda Terengganu. His Majesty’s priority in promoting the values and practice of Islam is manifested in the performance of umrah annually with his family.
Life of Thirteenth King of Malaysia
His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Wathiqu Billah Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Mahmud Al-Muktafi Billah Shah was born on 22 January 1962 (15 Syaaban 1381 Hijrah) at Istana Al-Muktafi in Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu Darul Iman. His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong is the eldest from seven siblings.
His Majesty received his early education at Sultan Sulaiman II Primary School and later at Sultan Sulaiman Secondary School, Kuala Terengganu. He then continued formal education abroad, at the prestigious Geelong Grammar School in Melbourne, Australia from 1980 till 1981. His Majesty then joined a 3-month military course at the Royal Malay Regiment, Sebatang Karah Camp, Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan on 18 May 1981. His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong then enrolled in the Military Course PRE SMC (E) 33 at the Army School of Languages from 2 November 1982 till 31 May 1983. His Majesty completed his training by attending the military course SMC 33 at Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, England from 3 May 1983 till 9 December 1983 and became an Honorary Lieutenant on 1 March 1984 and served in the Royal Cavalry.
A high interest in lifelong learning and the yearn to grasp more knowledge and education encouraged His Majesty to once again further his studies and thus His Majesty continued tertiary level at the U.S. International University-Europe in London (now known as Alliant International University). His Majesty completed his studies and obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Relations on 9 June 1988. At a very young age of 17, His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Wathiqu Billah Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, was called to shoulder his rightful responsibility when His Majesty was appointed as the Yang di-Pertuan Muda (Crown Prince or Regent) of Terengganu Darul Iman on 6 November 1979. His Majesty was later appointed as the Acting Sultan of Terengganu on 20 October 1986 and on 21 October 1990 till 8 November 1990.
Though his future is secured, His Majesty’s never restricted himself behind the Palace walls. On 15 September 1981, prior to his departure overseas to attend a military course in England, he was appointed as Assistant Land Levy Collector, working for a period of about a year at the District and Land Office Kuala Terengganu.
Upon finishing his studies at the U.S. International University-Europe in London, His Majesty took up another public appointment on 11 July 1988 as State Administrative Officer at the State Economic Planning Unit (UPEN) in Wisma Darul Iman, Kuala Terengganu. His Majesty was also the Assistant District Land Officer at the Kuala Terengganu District Land Office for two years from 11 July 1989 till 10 July 1991. He was elected as President of the Council for Islam and Malay Culture of Terengganu (MAIDAM - Majlis Agama Islam dan Adat Melayu Terengganu) from 1 June 1991 till 31 December 1995. His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Wathiqu Billah Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin married Her Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah on 28 March 1996. The Royal Wedding celebration was on glorious occasion in accordance with royal wedding custom and ceremony at Istana Maziah, Kuala Terengganu.
The Royal couple is blessed by Allah The Almighty with four children; two princesses and two princes; Yang Amat Mulia Tengku Nadhirah Zaharah (born 18 December 1996), Ke Bawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia Pemangku Raja Terengganu, Tengku Muhammad Ismail (born 1 March 1998), Duli Yang Amat Mulia Tengku Muhammad Mua’az (born 22 December 2000) and Yang Amat Mulia Tengku Fatimatuz Zahra’ (born 19 April 2002).
With the will of Allah The Almighty on 15 May 1998 (18 Muharram 1419 Hijrah), His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Wathiqu Billah Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin was installed as Sultan and Yang di-Pertuan for the State of Terengganu and all the areas under his dominion, following the demise of His Majesty’s beloved father, Sultan Mahmud Al-Muktafi Billah Shah. With the will of Allah The Almighty within the first year of his reign as Sultan of Terengganu, he was elected as the Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong) by the Conference of Rulers on 26 April 1999. Following His Majesty’s appointment, he was first entrusted as the Acting Yang di-Pertuan Agong on 14 September 2000 till 10 October 2000 when the Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong XI went abroad. He was once again given the mandate as the Acting Yang di-Pertuan Agong exercising the functions of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong from 4 October 2001 till 12 December 2001.
Thirteenth King of Malaysia as King
His Majesty devotes himself with programmes carried out for his people. The Yayasan DiRaja Sultan Mizan was founded by His Majesty to assist his people with a better future. This foundation was launched on 19 July 2005 in conjunction with His Majesty’s 43rd birthday. Through the Yayasan DiRaja Sultan Mizan, His Majesty improves and upgrades the socio-economic status, livelihood and well-being of his rakyat in Terengganu and Malaysians in general. To achieve His Majesty’s visions, the Yayasan DiRaja Sultan Mizan coordinates, organizes and sponsors various researches in different disciplines comprising economy, social, religion, culture and science and technology. Most of the programmes organized by the Foundation have achieved their objectives with the assistance and support from various organizations.
His Majesty takes direct responsibility and is actively chairing the executive meeting of the Board of Trustees Yayasan DiRaja Sultan Mizan. His active involvement is to provide assurance of his continuous efforts and to ensure activities are conducted as scheduled towards achieving the mission of the Foundation. His endless support and involvement with the Foundation proves of his commitment in ensuring issues related to the problems and needs of his subjects are taken care of.
Besides having a busy schedule, His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong, also finds time for recreation and sports activities. During His Majesty’s teenage years, he has already shown his fascination in sports such as football, golf, taekwondo, scuba diving and horseback riding. Today, due to his daily tight programme His Majesty is unable to fully commit in his passion for sports but keeps abreast with current news. He has accepted to be patrons for some sports organization in the country. His Majesty is the patron of Persatuan Perkasa Alam, a football association which had once participated in a match organized by the Football Association Malaysia (FAM). His Majesty keeps tracks on the development of the State’s football team and constantly gives encouragement and motivation for the Terengganu team to raise its name in the football arena in Malaysia.
His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Wathiqu Billah Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin is a skillful golf player. His Majesty also achieved a single handicap in golf. Nevertheless, duties and responsibilities as the current Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong restrict him from enjoying this game unless it is included and required in his formal agendas. His Majesty fulfils this interest by being the patron of the Terengganu Royal Golf Club.
His Majesty’s formal duties and personal activities require him to be physically fit. He is a taekwondo exponent whereby His Majesty is a patron for the Malaysia Global Taekwondo Federation (MGTF) since 1990. His active participation in the sport is acknowledged with an Honorary Award of the 7th Degree Black Belt given to him from the Global Taekwondo Federation (GTF). Due to his special participation in this area, Malaysia was entrusted to organize the World Taekwondo Championship in Kuala Terengganu in 1994 with participation from 88 countries. His Majesty’s credibility was highlighted again in 2003 when Terengganu became the host for the National Taekwondo Championship. As the patron of MGTF, His Majesty officiates all taekwondo championships at the national level organized by this body. His Majesty has also donated a challenge trophy for this event.
His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong most recent focus in recreation and sports involves horseback riding activities primarily in the discipline of Endurance. He has been personally and dynamically involved in Endurance Ride competitions conducted in this country and abroad. Hence, His Majesty envisions in sharing and promoting Endurance sports simultaneously making this activity popular among the people of Terengganu and Malaysia. In order to realize this ambition, His Majesty introduced a centre for sports, recreation and equestrian activities at Kuala Ibai, Kuala Terengganu which has successfully achieved international standards.
The Royal Terengganu Endurance Stable (RTES) pioneered by His Majesty is aimed at training horseback riding for participation in Endurance competitions at national and international levels. Since its inception, RTES has participated in many championships in Malaysia and overseas and the most recent was in August 2006 whereby three riders from RTES represented Malaysia to the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Aachen, Germany. The RTES team is currently preparing for the European Open 2007 and the World Equestrian Games 2008 at Lembah Bidong, Terengganu, Malaysia.
His Majesty has also made remarkable achievements in Endurance sports. He qualified in the final round at an international level competition after he passed the 80km Endurance Ride in 2002. He was placed fourth at the 105km Johor Endurance Championship on 8 February 2004. His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong won the Wilga 80km Endurance Ride in Wilga, Australia on 13 March 2004. In the same year, His Majesty achieved third placing at the 105km Kelantan Royal Jubilee Endurance held on 8 October 2004. The subsequent year, he represented Malaysia at the 160km Endurance Championship on 27 January 2005 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Following the previous event, His Majesty succeeded in being champion at the 90km Harris Ride Championship in Perth, Australia on 3 September 2005. His most recent accomplishment was at an International Endurance Ride Championship on 4 March 2007 in Qatar where Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong won second placing, automatically qualifying him in the next round which will be held in Terengganu in 2008.
Unquestionably, it was also due to His Majesty’s notable ingenuity in fostering this sport that Malaysia has been chosen to host the 2008 World Endurance Championship at Lembah Bidong, Terengganu. His renowned endeavours in injecting activities involving horseback riding specifically Endurance has helped in attracting and making this sport widely known to Malaysians.
Thirteenth Queen of Malaysia
Her Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah was born on 7 December 1973 (12 Zulkaedah 1393 Hijrah). Her Majesty received her primary school education at Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan St. Nicholas Convent and secondary education at Sekolah Menengah St. Nicholas Convent which are both situated in Alor Setar, Kedah. On 4 December 2006 (13 Zulkaedah 1427 Hijrah), Her Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Tuanku was awarded an Honorary Doctoral Degree in Management from Kolej Universiti Sains dan Teknologi Malaysia (KUSTEM) Terengganu. The award is significant as it acknowledges the contribution in which Her Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Tuanku has placed towards organizing various charity works for the people in the state of Terengganu.
On 28 March 1996 Her Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah married His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Wathiqu Billah Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin. His Majesty was the Regent of Terengganu (Yang di-Pertuan Muda Terengganu). The happily married royal couple has been blessed with four children; two princesses and two princes: Yang Amat Mulia Tengku Nadhirah Zaharah, (born 18 December 1996), Ke Bawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia Pemangku Raja Terengganu, Tengku Muhammad Ismail, (born 1 March 1998), Yang Amat Mulia Tengku Muhammad Mua’az, (born 22 December 2000), and Yang Amat Mulia Tengku Fatimatuz Zahra’, (born 19 April 2002).
Her Majesty was installed as Queen on 19 July 1998 which was later replaced with a new title, Kebawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia Sultanah Nur Zahirah on 5 June 2006. She was conferred the dignitary titles of the Bintang Kebesaran Darjah Seri Setia Sultan Mahmud Terengganu Yang Amat Mulia Darjah Yang Pertama (D.K.) on 16 January 1999 and Darjah Kebesaran Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Terengganu Yang Amat Terpilih (S.S.M.Z.). The most recent dignitary title awarded to Her Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Raja Permaisuri Agong was the Darjah Utama Seri Mahkota Negara (D.M.N.) on 5 April 2007.
Her Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah places religious education as a valuable knowledge in shaping family harmony. The children of Their Majesties performed the Haj together with His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong at a very young age. In addition, the royal family perform the umrah to Mecca annually.
As a concerned and responsible mother, Her Majesty puts importance in the education of the children. This interest is strongly supported by His Majesty. Hence, the children are given a combination of religious and traditional Malay teachings (such as the understanding and acceptance of the Malay adat, culture, and values) alongside formal education. Thus, the integration of both Islamic and traditional Malay standards with formal education is the principle of moulding an optimistic direction for Her Majesty in raising her children.
Her Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah is a warm-hearted person who has a very soft spot for all children. She has continuously placed both concern and interest in subjects related to current issues and development of children. This thoughtfulness is naturally manifested being a woman and a mother from the Royal Family renowned for being compassionate and sensitive towards the country’s future generations. In keeping up with the latest on child issues and development, Her Majesty ensures that she keeps an update on all the relevant topics by taking her time to study various reading materials. She has given special attention on the aspects of children’s emotional and intellectual development through its measures as EQ (Emotional Quotient) and IQ (Intellectual Quotient) measures respectively.
Seri Paduka Baginda Tuanku exemplifies a wonderful persona both internally and externally suitable for Her Majesty’s significant role as the Raja Permaisuri Agong. Her Majesty’s personality as one who represents the Malay women asserts a polished gentleness, politeness and courteousness suited with Malay culture. This portrayal has never been forgotten by Her Majesty even when she became the Sultanah of Terengganu. In the context of social ethics, Her Majesty practices honesty and sincerity in establishing both virtuous and respectful relationships with others. Her generous smiles when meeting with the people is a symbol always associated with Her Majesty. She is also understanding and sympathetic towards societal problems and the needs of the people primarily affairs relating to women.
Palace life has not put a halt into Her Majesty’s social and humanitarian duties for the people in her society. This is executed through her devotion and contribution in her charitable and goodwill activities. Her Majesty’s responsibility in this area can be seen when she adds a royal touch by involving herself to be a part of the driving force in running various activities, associations and organizations in the Terengganu State. The kindness and sincere consideration by Her Majesty can be proven during the tsunami tragedy when she played a major role in collecting donations for the victims which were successfully distributed through both the Acheh and Kedah governments. The list of generosity of the Seri Paduka Baginda Tuanku includes involving herself with programmes to assist the poor and those with special needs.
Seri Paduka Baginda Tuanku has given her never-ending contribution to children and women during His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s 44th birthday celebration in 2006. In particular, the Yayasan DiRaja Sultan Mizan, a local foundation of the Royal Family, represented by Her Majesty distributed milk bottle especially for cleft-lipped babies, breast pumps for mothers and related devices to help people with eyesight problems through Hospital Nur Zahirah.
Her Majesty is the patron of various organizations, uniformed bodies and educational institutions in the Terengganu State. The organizations under the Sultanah consist of: Majlis Kebajikan dan Pembangunan Masyarakat (for social welfare and development), Pertubuhan Kebajikan Anak Yatim Terengganu (known as PERKAYA for the welfare of orphans), Persatuan Hospis Terengganu (for hospice support) and Persatuan Ibu Bapa dan Guru Sekolah Kebangsaan Pusat Bukit Besar, Terengganu (known as PIBAGU, a parent-teacher school association). Her Majesty is also active in Girl Guide Association of Terengganu. Another important accomplishment is the Tadika An Nur, a well established pre-school in Terengganu pioneered by Seri Paduka Baginda Tuanku. This pre-school prospered when she planned to give an early form of education for her children. She is currently the Patron of Tadika An Nur which has now been opened to the public.
Regardless of Her Majesty’s tight programme in attending all her duties as the Sultanah of Terengganu, wife and mother of four children, she still makes enough room to pursue and exercise her interest in interior designing. Her majesty puts great effort in ensuring a surrounding that is clean, organized and proper which automatically sets a comfortable living space. With her enthusiasm and skill in this area, Seri Paduka Baginda Tuanku puts her own personal royal touch in planning and decorating the Palace. Besides her passion in interior designing, Her Majesty has also a passion for cooking. The Sultanah finds time to cook a variety of recipes for her loving family, especially to prepare favourite dishes of His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong and her children.
Besides Her Majesty’s busy schedule, she does not forget to make space for her own personal pastime. These precious moments are used for recreation such as doing exercises and brisk-walking. The desire for adventure is displayed through visits and travels to various destinations, of which the experiences assist Her Majesty in solving problems of the people. The Seri Paduka Baginda Tuanku’s interest in adventure is also apparent in Her Majesty’s constant support towards His Majesty and his team’s active involvement in endurance horseback riding sport.
Installment of Malaysia's 12th King in 2001
In December 2001, CNN reported: “Malaysia has named the sultan of its smallest state as the country's new king. Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail will replace the late monarch Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz, who died last month. He will be Malaysia's 12th king, or Yang di-Pertuan Agong, since the country gained independence from Britain in 1957.
Malaysia's nine hereditary Malay rulers chose Syed Sirajuddin during a secret ballot at the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur. The new monarch, 58, attended Britain's army officer training school of Sandhurst and served in the military before succeeding his late father last year as ruler of Perlis, the nation's smallest state. It is a mostly rural state dotted with rice paddy fields in the north of Peninsula Malaysia, bordering Thailand. Syed Sirajuddin has two children with his wife Fauziah Abdul Rashid and has a keen interest in golf, soccer, rugby and photography.[Source: CNN, December 12, 2001]
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.
© 2008 Jeffrey Hays
Last updated June 2015