Malaysia’s royals meet over King Muhammad V’s abdication, state media reports

Malaysia's royal families elected Muhammad V king in 2016. (CNN)Malaysia's royal families are understood to have held a mee

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Malaysia's royal families elected Muhammad V king in 2016.

(CNN)Malaysia’s royal families are understood to have held a meeting to discuss a date to select a new king, after Muhammad V announced his abdication Sunday, state media reports.

Muhammad V’s abdication marked the first time in modern history that the country’s constitutional leader has stepped down.
Muhammad V was elected the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong — Malaysia’s head of state — in December 2016. For the six years prior to that he reigned as Sultan of Kelantan province.
Every nine years, the country’s nine royal families elect one of their sultans as King of the whole country.
According to state-run news agency Bernama, the cars of the rulers of six of the royal houses arrived at the Istana Negara — the King’s official residence — Monday morning.
The royal houses were believed to be meeting to discuss a date to elect Muhammad V’s successor, Bernama said.
“The media was also made to understand that an official statement would be issued the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal, Tan Sri Syed Danial Syed Ahmad on the matter soon,” the agency reported.

What led to the abdication?

Muhammad V’s abdication “wasn’t a surprise,” to many political watchers in the country, says James Chin, Director of the Asia Institute at the University of Tasmania. “Last year he took a two-month vacation for medical leave.”
Chin says that it is thought that an extraordinary meeting of the royal families persuaded Muhammad to step down.
Malaysia politician Anwar Ibrahim returns to politics

Chin says that the last 12 months have “seen some fundamental change in Malaysia” — last year was the first time that the Barisan Nasional (BN) party was ousted, and now “the first time that an Agong has stepped down.”
In May last year, Muhammad V swore in current Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, ending almost five decades of rule by the BN, and paved the way for politician Anwar Ibrahim to return to the front line of politics — including a widely anticipated leadership role when Mahathir steps aside — by pardoning his sodomy conviction.
The King’s unprecedented move also comes amongst rife speculation that he married a Russian beauty queen, Oksana Voevodina, in November. Photos were shared on social media that purport to show their wedding ceremony, but neither the Malaysian government nor the palace has confirmed the union.