Yang di-Pertuan Agong

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Image:Flag of the Supreme Head of Malaysia.png
Flag of the Supreme Head of Malaysia

Yang di-Pertuan Agong, a Malay title usually translated as "Supreme Head", "Supreme Ruler" or "Paramount Ruler", is the official title of the constitutional head of state of the federation of Malaysia. The position is often categorized as "King" in English, since from a Western political science perspective, Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy with a monarch as head of state. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is one of the few elected monarchs in the world.

Since 1993, the full title in Malay has been, Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Prior to that the honorific Ke Bawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia was also used. The consort of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is called the Raja Permaisuri Agong. Both are referred to in English as "His/Her Majesty".


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The official residence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is Istana Negara (the 'National Palace') located in Jalan Syed Putra in the federal capital Kuala Lumpur. There are also other residences, such as Istana Melawati in the federal administrative capital Putrajaya which is the royal retreat or 'istana hinggap' for Yang di-Pertuan Agong and his family, as well as being the venue of meetings of the Council of Rulers, which elects the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Replicas of the thrones of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and his consort, the Raja Permaisuri Agong, National History Museum, Kuala Lumpur

The role of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is largely ceremonial in Malaysia's constitutional monarchy. The constitution specifies that executive power, theoretically vested in the head of state, is exercised by (or on the advice of) the Cabinet which is headed by the Prime Minister, who is responsible to Parliament.

The 12th and current Yang di-Pertuan Agong is Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin ibni Almarhum Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail, the Raja of Perlis. Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, the Sultan of Terengganu, has been elected to succeed him as the 13th Yang di-Pertuan Agong. His reign will begin on 13 December 2006.

By convention the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's birthday is officially celebrated on the first Saturday of June, regardless of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's actual birthday.


[edit] Election

A system of elective monarchy is rare and the only other extant cases in a sovereign state are: the 'President' elected by the Emirs of the UAE (where in fact the same member state always supplied the Monarch, as the Austrian archducal Habsburg did for centuries in the Holy Roman Empire; the second-most influential UAE state gets the Prime Ministership); the Vatican City, where the Pope is elected by the College of Cardinals; and Andorra, one of whose two monarchs is the democratically-elected President of France.

In a feature unique to the Malaysian monarchy, the position is de facto rotated every five years between the nine Rulers of the Malay states. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is formally elected by and from among the nine Rulers, who form the Council of Rulers. The selection of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong initially followed an order based on the seniority (calculated by length of reign) of each Ruler drawn up at Malaysia's Independence from the UK in 1957. The original order has at times been varied by the Council of Rulers, which can vote to disqualify a candidate. Minors are automatically disqualified. After all nine Rulers of the states had served as Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the order of seniority had been based on the order of seniority of the states whose rulers have been elected as Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

In the event that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong dies, an election will be held as if the previous term has expired. The new Yang di-Pertuan Agong will hold the office for a full term. After his term expires, an election will be held and he may not be reelected.

A Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong (deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong) is also elected in the same process immediately after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is elected. The purpose of having a Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong is to exercise the functions of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong during the king’s absence or inability to exercise his functions owing to illness or infirmity. The Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong does not automatically become the new Yang di-Pertuan Agong when a vacancy occurs in the office. The Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong acts as the head of state before the election of the new Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

On taking office as Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the ruler appoints a regent for that state, usually, but not always, a close relative, for the duration of his royal term.

The Council of Rulers (in Malay, Majlis Raja-raja) has met regularly since 1895. The membership of the council includes the governors or Yang di-Pertua Negeri, but only royal rulers are allowed to vote and stand for election as Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

[edit] Roles

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong's role is that of a constitutional monarch under the Constitution of Malaysia. As the Federal Head of State the extent and limitation of his powers are outlined by the Federal Constitution and Parliamentary Acts made in accordance with it.The monarch's powers are basically divided into two broad categories:

  • the powers that he exercises on the advice of the Prime Minister, a Minister, the Cabinet, the Conference of Rulers or some other officer or institution; and
  • the powers that he exercises at his discretion (without the consent of any other authority).

The discretionary powers of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong mainly pertain to the Prime Minister's appointment, the dissolution of Parliament, and meetings of the Conference of Rulers "concerned solely with the privileges, position, honours and dignities of Their Royal Highnesses". Under the Westminster System, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is expected to appoint a Prime Minister who will command the confidence of a majority of the elected lower house of Parliament, the Dewan Rakyat; should the Prime Minister be unacceptable, he may be forced out by a vote of no confidence, which would force the King to appoint someone else. Conventionally, the Prime Minister is the head of the party with a majority in Parliament, which has been the Barisan Nasional (National Front, formerly known as the Alliance) since independence in 1957.

A Prime Minister's appointment is renewed after every general election until he decides to step down. A general election is called whenever the Prime Minister chooses to dissolve Parliament; however, only the lower house is elected by popular vote, while the Yang di-Pertuan Agong appoints 42 members of the upper house, the Dewan Negara; the other members of this house, also known as Senators, are indirectly elected, as they are selected by the various state governments. As mentioned earlier, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may choose to refuse a request to dissolve Parliament, as this is one of his discretionary powers. In addition to these, he is also responsible for the Agong's honours list, and the appointment of the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur, which is a Federal Territory.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong appoints the Yang di-Pertua Negeri, or Governors, of the states of Penang, Malacca, Sabah and Sarawak acting in his discretion after having considered the advice of the states Chief Minister. In addition, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is the Head of Islam in the four states ruled by appointed Governors, the three federal territories as well as his own state.

[edit] History

In August 1957, having rejected the suggested title of Yang di-Pertuan Besar in favour of Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the Council of Rulers met to vote the first occupant of the throne. By seniority, Major-General Sultan Ibrahim (Sultan of Johor), having succeeded as sultan in 1895, was the most senior, but he declined election due to old age (he was then 84).

The next in line, Sultan Abu Bakar (Sultan of Pahang), who succeeded in 1932, also declined nomination. The next most senior Ruler, Tuanku Abdul Rahman of Negeri Sembilan, having succeeded to his state throne in 1933, was accordingly elected.

Those present at the first election were:

  1. Sultan Abu Bakar Riayatuddin Al-Muadzam Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdullah Al-Mutassim Billah Shah (Sultan of Pahang; 1932–1974)
  2. Tuanku Abdul Rahman ibni Almarhum Tuanku Muhammad (Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan; 1933–1960)
  3. Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah Al-Haj ibni Almarhum Sultan Alaeddin Sulaiman Shah (Sultan of Selangor; 1938–1942, 1945–1960)
  4. Sultan Badlishah ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah (Sultan of Kedah; 1943–1958)
  5. Sultan Ibrahim Petra ibni Almarhum Sultan Muhammad IV (Al-Sultan of Kelantan; 1944–1960)
  6. Tuanku Syed Putra ibni Almarhum Syed Hassan Jamalullail (Raja of Perlis; 1945–2000)
  7. Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Zainal Abidin III (Sultan of Terengganu; 1945–1979)
  8. Sultan Yusuf Izzudin Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Jalil Nasruddin shah (Sultan of Perak; 1948–1963)
  9. Tunku Ismail ibni Sultan Ibrahim (Crown Prince or Tunku Mahkota of Johor; later Sultan 1959–1981)

[edit] Order of states

After the first cycle of nine Yang di-Pertuan Agong (1957–1994), the order among the eligible, all peninsular, state rulers has followed the order established by that cycle, namely:

  1. the Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan (itself an elective monarchy)
  2. the Sultan of Selangor
  3. the Raja of Perlis
  4. the Sultan of Terengganu
  5. the Sultan of Kedah
  6. the Sultan of Kelantan
  7. the Sultan of Pahang
  8. the Sultan of Johor
  9. the Sultan of Perak

[edit] List of Yang di-Pertuan Agong

The following Rulers have served as Yang di-Pertuan Agong:

# Name State Reign Born Died
1 Abdul Rahman Negeri Sembilan 19571960 1895 1960
2 Hisamuddin Alam Shah Selangor 1960 1898 1960
3 Syed Putra Perlis 19601965 1920 2000
4 Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Terengganu 19651970 1907 1979
5 Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah Kedah 19701975 1924
6 Yahya Petra Kelantan 19751979 1917 1979
7 Ahmad Shah Al-Mustain Billah Pahang 19791984 1930
8 Iskandar Johor 19841989 1932
9 Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah Perak 19891994 1928
10 Jaafar Negeri Sembilan 19941999 1922
11 Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Selangor 19992001 1922 2001
12 Syed Sirajuddin Perlis 20012006 1943
13 Mizan Zainal Abidin Terengganu 2006 1962

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

et:Malaisia kuningas id:Yang di-Pertuan Agong ms:Yang di-Pertuan Agong nl:Lijst van koningen van Maleisië ja:マレーシアの国王 pl:Yang di-Pertuan Agong zh:马来西亚最高元首

Yang di-Pertuan Agong

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