Monday, 7 January 2019

King’s abdication stirs Malaysia’s royal affairs

Sultan Muhammad V's surprise abdication, reputedly to avoid scrutiny of his marriage to a Russian beauty queen, puts the rotational monarchy in uncharted waters

Malaysia’s constitutional monarchy is in the midst of a rare upheaval after the surprise abdication of Sultan Muhammad V, he country’s king, or the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, as he is officially known. On January 6, the 49-year-old sultan became the first royal ever to resign from the federation’s throne.

A statement issued by the palace offered no official reason for the monarch’s decision to quit after serving just two years of a five-year term that was slated to expire in 2021. Prior to the announcement, speculation had been mounting about the monarch’s status after he took a two-month leave of absence on medical grounds.

During that period, reports spread that the sultan had married Oksana Voevodina, a 25-year-old Russian beauty queen, in Moscow, although this was never officially confirmed or addressed by the palace. Reports suggest the country’s other hereditary rulers were uneasy over the union and the possible royal coronation of Voevodina.

Malaysia’s constitutional monarchs have a ceremonial role and are bestowed as the heads of Islam in their respective states. A total of nine Malay royal houses comprise the Conference of Rulers, which convenes to elect among themselves a Yang di-Pertuan Agong, a largely symbolic head of state who typically serves a five-year term.

Read the full story at Asia Times.

Nile Bowie is a writer and journalist with the Asia Times covering current affairs in Singapore and Malaysia. He can be reached at