Malaysia DPM Wan Azizah saddened by resignation of King who pardoned her husband Anwar Ibrahim

Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said Sultan Muhammad's decision to step down must be respected. PHOTO: REUTERS

GOMBAK - Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail expressed dismay on Sunday (Jan 6) after it was announced Sultan Muhammad V, who granted a royal pardon to her jailed husband last year, was stepping down as the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Speaking after the Humanitarian Laboratory 2.0 conference at the International Islamic University Malaysia in Gombak, Selangor, Datuk Seri Wan Azizah said Sultan Muhammad's decision, however, must be respected, the Malay Mail news site reported.

"He was the one who pardoned my husband," said the president of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, referring to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was sentenced to five years in jail in March 2014 after being convicted of sodomising a male aide.

"We respect his decision, but I am also sad, as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was there when a big change happened in the country, he was there to swear in the new Prime Minister and also saw the change of government which is historical," Dr Wan Azizah told reporters on Sunday.

Mr Anwar, now president of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat, a key component of PH, was pardoned by Sultan Muhammad in May last year, days after his coalition toppled the country's longest-ruling alliance Umno and swept into power in the 14th Malaysian general election.

The abdication of Sultan Muhammad of Kelantan, who ascended to the throne in December 2016 as the 15th King, or Supreme Ruler of the federation, was announced by the National Palace on Sunday.

Malaysia's nine Malay state rulers elect a King among themselves every five years, usually on a rotational basis.

Sultan Muhammad's reign ended in controversial fashion after he took a two-month break "following treatment" beginning on Nov 2. It was reported during that time that the 49-year-old had married Russian beauty queen Oksana Voevodina, 25, in Moscow.

The Straits Times learnt that other rulers were uneasy with the possible coronation of Ms Voevodina.

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