KUALA LUMPUR - Pahang's Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin, was installed as Malaysia's 16th Malaysian King on Tuesday (July 30) in a ceremony steeped in royal customs and tradition.
The installation came six months after the surprise abdication of his predecessor, Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan.
The 60-year-old ruler of the state of Pahang was crowned king for the next five years in a ceremony at the Istana Negara, the national palace in Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia’s kings are elected by the rulers of the country’s nine states, who take turns in serving five-year terms.
The king wore a black baju Melayu – a traditional Malay outfit - intricately woven with gold thread, along with a tengkolok, the traditional headgear worn by Malay males, reported DPA.
His outfit was accessorised with a keris, a Malay dagger.
The ceremony, held in the palace’s throne room, was attended by members of Malaysia’s nine royal houses dressed in their full regalia, and local political leaders including Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Foreign royals, including the Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, and his consort Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha, as well as the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, were also present.
The ceremony began in the morning with a royal salute involving members of the Malaysian Armed Forces at the main square of Istana Negara.
National news agency Bernama said the royal salute symbolises "the pledge of loyalty of the national defence forces" to the King, also known as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or Supreme Ruler, as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
The ceremony began with the arrival of Sultan Abdullah and his Queen, Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah Sultan Iskandar.
The royal couple were welcomed by Tun Dr Mahathir, Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mujahid Yusuf Rawa.
Sultan Abdullah also inspected the guard of honour comprising four officers and 103 members of various ranks.
Upon completion of the inspection, Sultan Abdullah was accorded a second royal salute.
In his maiden speech as King, Sultan Abdullah urged Malaysians to refrain from raising matters that can undermine and destroy the country's harmony, stressing that unity and harmony are pillars of strength of the nation.
"Playing with fire will burn not only oneself but also the whole village," Bernama quoted Sultan Abdullah as saying. "It is the basis of unity, of bringing the people together and of sparking the spirit of patriotism. It is a spirit that, if inherited and cherished by every single citizen, can bring forth a sense of love and loyalty to the country."
Sultan Abdullah will reign as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for five years.
His predecessor, Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan, stepped aside in January following just two years on the throne after he went on medical leave. Reports then surfaced he had married a former Miss Moscow.
No official reason was given for his abdication, but it was the first time a king had stepped aside before the end of his term in the Muslim-majority country.
Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy with a unique arrangement where the national throne changes hands every five years between royal rulers of the country's nine states.
Pahang was next in line for the throne after Muhammad V stepped down, and Sultan Abdullah was formally chosen as the country's 16th king by Malaysia's royal families.
Despite the merely ceremonial role, Malaysia's Islamic royalty command great respect, especially from Muslim Malays, the country's majority group, and criticising them is strictly forbidden.
Portraits of the king and queen adorn government buildings throughout the country. The king is also the symbolic head of Islam in the nation, as well as the nominal chief of the military.