Royals' role in politics

Political logjam drags Malaysia's royal households into the fray

Sultan Abdullah's neutral position no longer an option as he and his brother rulers must decide whether to sanction PM's plan for emergency

The move to lean on Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah to resolve the current political crisis represents a major twist in the relations of Malaysia's political elite and the monarchy.
The move to lean on Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah to resolve the current political crisis represents a major twist in the relations of Malaysia's political elite and the monarchy.PHOTO: REUTERS
Sultan Abdullah and his wife, Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, with villagers in Pahang in June. With Malaysia's ethnic Malay community divided like never before, the King is being dragged into the fray to play the central role of adjudicato
Sultan Abdullah and his wife, Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, with villagers in Pahang in June. With Malaysia's ethnic Malay community divided like never before, the King is being dragged into the fray to play the central role of adjudicator in a bid to resolve the country's political gridlock.PHOTO: BERNAMA
Left: Sultan Abdullah being welcomed by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin at the National Day celebrations at the Dataran Pahlawan Negara in August. Right: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim (second from right) at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on Oct
Above left: Sultan Abdullah being welcomed by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin at the National Day celebrations at the Dataran Pahlawan Negara in August. PHOTOS: BERNAMA
Left: Sultan Abdullah being welcomed by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin at the National Day celebrations at the Dataran Pahlawan Negara in August. Right: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim (second from right) at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on Oct
Above: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim (second from right) at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on Oct 13, following a meeting with the Malaysian King. Tan Sri Muhyiddin's move on Friday to push his proposal for emergency measures has made it more urgent for the King to deal with issues over the current government's legitimacy to rule and Datuk Seri Anwar's power bid. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Malaysia's nine royal households, which are part of a unique constitutional monarchy system, have long been content with playing a passive role in upholding Malay-Muslim values in the country's complex and often combustible multiracial politics.

Now, with the ethnic Malay community divided like never before, the King is being dragged into the fray to play the central role of adjudicator in a bid to resolve the country's worsening political gridlock - developments that are stirring fresh debate on the role of the monarchy in society.

Please or to continue reading the full article.

Get unlimited access to all stories at $0.99/month

  • Latest headlines and exclusive stories
  • In-depth analyses and award-winning multimedia content
  • Get access to all with our no-contract promotional package at only $0.99/month for the first 3 months*

*Terms and conditions apply.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 25, 2020, with the headline 'Political logjam drags Malaysia's royal households into the fray '. Print Edition | Subscribe