As the current Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah's term was coming to an end, as stipulated in the constitution, the Conference of Rulers met on Oct 14 and elected Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan as the successor to Tuanku Abdul Halim.
Tuanku Abdul Halim, the 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the only one so far to reign twice, bade farewell and returned to his home state yesterday. From today, Dec 13, it is the Kelantan monarch's turn to rule.
OATH OF OFFICE
So how is Sultan Muhammad V going to start his reign?
As stipulated in the constitution, to mark his acceptance of the position of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Muhammad V will be taking an oath of office.
The monarch will be reading the oath before the Conference of Rulers in a special ceremony at Istana Negara tomorrow.
Constitutional Law expert Associate Prof Dr Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz told Bernama that many aspects of the installation process such as the proclamation of 'Daulat Tuanku' (Long Live the King) and the number of military personnel escorting him are part of a set of protocol.
"Before exercising his functions as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, he has to take and subscribe the oath of office, as stated in Article 37, Part Three, Schedule Four of the Federal Constitution," said Shamrahayu, the Main Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Shariah, Law and Politics at the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM).
The oath summarises the main responsibilities of the of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, which covers four aspects:
*to perform duties in accordance to Malaysia's laws and constitution;
*to uphold the country's laws;
*to fulfill the rules of the law and order and promote good governance of the country;
*to protect Islamic as the religion of the federation at all times
"Perhaps there are many who do not see the function of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in times of political stability.
"But times are changing. The state of unity within the Malays and between the races are changing as well. I believe that the role and authority of the King would become more visible in the future, as called for by the constitution," she opined.
She said the position of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was often misinterpreted as merely symbolic.
In fact, many likened the Malaysian monarchy to the English monarchy.
Shamrahayu stressed the two were not the same.
"The English monarchy is not recognised in the country's written laws.
"This is different from the constitutional monarchy system practiced in Malaysia where the role and functions of the monarchy is in the written constitution.
"This means that if it is in the written constitution, we have to abide by it because it is the country's most important law," she explained further.
ROLES OF THE AGONG
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong has a role in all three branches of the government which are executive, legal and judiciary, as stipulated in the Federal Constitution.
In the executive branch, His Majesty has the power to appoint a prime minister and to refuse a prime minister's request to dissolve the Parliament.
Shamrahayu said the constitution did not set any requisite on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in executing his duty to appoint a prime minister, except that the candidate has the support of the majority of MPs.
"People usually think that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong decides based on the advice of the prime minister.
"It is true that His Majesty can do that, but there are matters where the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has discretionary powers to act on, as stipulated in the constitution," she said.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong can also call a meeting with the Conference of Rulers concerned solely with the privileges, position, honours and dignities of Their Royal Highnesses.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong also has a significant role in appointing an attorney general and judges based on the advice of the prime minister.
He is also given the power to grant amnesty or delay sentencing on any crime tried in the Military Court and crimes committed within the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is also the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces in addition to being the Head of Islam in the four states ruled by appointed Governors, in the three Federal Territories as well as in his own state.
"We have a constitution that puts the monarch as the Head of State and provides him with discretionary powers in certain areas.
"At the same time, we also have a democratic government. Both systems should balance out each other," said Shamrahayu.
ELECTION OF THE YANG DI-PERTUAN AGONG
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is elected by the Conference of Rulers to hold the position for five years.
After the completion of his term, His Majesty will be succeeded by another monarch, based on the same selection system.
Schedule Three of the Federal Constitution provides that a Ruler is not eligible for election as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong if:
* The Ruler is a minor, or
* The Ruler has notified the Keeper of the Rulers' Seal that he does not wish to be elected, or
* The Conference of Rulers by a secret ballot resolves that the Ruler is unsuitable by reason of infirmity of mind or body, or for any other cause, to exercise the functions of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The resolution requires at least five members of the Conference to vote in favour of it.
During the selection process, the Conference of Rulers will first offer the position of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to the Ruler of a state that was currently first in the selection list.
If the Ruler refuses the position, the Conference of Rulers is required to offer the position to the Ruler of the state next in the list, and so on, until a Ruler accepts the position.
The Malay Rulers who are qualified to select and hold the position as Malaysia's Head of State are the Yang Di-Pertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan, the Sultan of Selangor, Raja of Perlis, the Sultan of Terengganu, the Sultan of Kedah, the Sultan of Kelantan, the Sultan of Pahang, the Sultan of Johor and the Sultan of Perak.
This is the second time that the Sultan of Kelantan is elected as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Prior to the election of Sultan Muhammad V, his grandfather, the late Sultan Yahya Petra ibni Sultan Ibrahim held the position of the 6th Yang di-Pertuan Agong from 1976 to 1979. -- Bernama