Sultan of Johor crowned five years after ascension to the throne

The Sultan of Johor was crowned on Monday morning, five years after he ascended the throne.

The Mufti of Johor, the state's Islamic head, placed a jewel-encrusted crown on Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar as the latter was given a 21-gun salute.

The coronation was held at the Istana Besar, or grand palace, located in Johor state's capital Johor Baru.

Sultan Ibrahim later witnessed an air salute from Royal Malaysian Air Force helicopters, before proceeding on a tour along several roads in the city centre on his motorcade.

Among the guests who attended the ceremony was Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, the Sultan of Brunei, Malay rulers and governors as well as close members of the Johor royal family.

Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam also attended the coronation accompanied by his wife Dr Seetha Shanmugam.

Mr Shanmugam has, however, cancelled his attendance at a royal banquet in the evening in the light of the passing of former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

In a statement, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the visit reflects the warm relationship and close friendship between Singapore and Johor.

The coronation is a historic event and marks Johor state's first royal coronation in 55 years.

"The coronation of the Sultan of Johor is a customary tradition and not a legal requirement," said royal court president Abdul Rahim Ramli in a statement.

"However, the crown and the coronation ceremony enhance the sovereignty, honour and majesty of the ruler, and consolidate the legitimacy of this appointment," he said.

The coronation took place after a delay of five years because places needed for the event such as Istana Besar were being refurbished, among other reasons.

The coronation is unique to Johor as rulers of the other Malaysian states are usually installed and crowned at the same time.

Malaysia has 13 states, of which nine, including Johor, have Malay constitutional monarchs.

Sultan Ibrahim is the fifth ruler of Johor to be crowned. His royal consort, Raja Zarith Sofiah Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah, was conferred the title of Permaisuri of Johor.

In conjunction with his coronation, the Sultan commuted the death sentences of 10 prisoners to life imprisonment, Bernama news agency reported. He also granted a full pardon to a juvenile offender who was serving a jail sentence for murder.

Monday has been declared a public holiday in Johor, peninsular Malaysia's southernmost state.

Commemorative postage stamps and special medallions will be issued by Bank Negara. Street parades, fireworks and free concerts have also been lined up in the state.

The Sultan will be visiting Johor's 10 districts till April 20 and will, among other things, attend tea sessions and prayer services.