KUALA LUMPUR – The Sultan of Pahang, Abdullah Ahmad Shah, was crowned on Tuesday the 16th king of Malaysia for the next five years under the country’s rotating monarchy system after his proclamation as the monarch in January following an unexpected abdication by his predecessor.
In an ostentatious ceremony at Kuala Lumpur’s National Palace, the monarch’s official residence, the 60-year-old sultan wore a traditional black regalia with gold embroidery.
The sultan and his wife were welcomed into the palace with a red carpet leading into the rooms, and formally ascended the throne in front of 700 invitees, in a ceremony laden with symbolism and amid the sound of flutes and drum beats.
The new king, in his first speech after the coronation broadcast live on television, promised to promote unity and tolerance among all races and religions in the country.
The event was attended by seven of the remaining eight sultans of Malaysia, as well as representatives of the federal government, the 13 states and three territories that make up the nation.
Shah’s appointment came after Muhammad V, Sultan of Kelantan, 49, surprised everyone by announcing his abdication on Jan. 6 without giving any reason for it, after just two years on the throne.
The abdication took place after Muhammad V was reported to have married 25-year-old Russia’s beauty queen Oksana Voevodina, at a secretive ceremony in Moscow last November. News of their divorce was made public earlier this month.
Malaysia practices the system of a constitutional monarchy. According to its constitution, the king, who represents the country at official events, is elected every five years from among the nine Sultans on a rotational basis.
The system has been in practice since Malaysia’s independence from the United Kingdom in 1957, but the lineage of sultans dates back to Malay Sultans of the 15th century.
The king, also the commander-in-chief of the Malaysian Armed Forces, is revered as the patriarch of the Malay ethnic group by Malay Muslims, who represent 60 percent of the country’s population.