Malaysian royal officials on Sunday confirmed that king Sultan Muhammad V has abdicated just two years after he took up the role in December 2016, AFP reported. “The National Palace informs that his majesty has resigned as the 15th king effective January 6,” said a statement from the palace, without giving a reason for the abdication.
This is the first time a king has abdicated in Malaysia, which is a constitutional monarchy. The rulers of nine Malaysian states elect a king from among themselves every five years.
“His Majesty has prepared to return to Kelantan Darul Naim to be with the state government and especially the people of Kelantan to safeguard and develop Kelantan for the betterment of the public,” The Straits Times quoted the palace as saying. Kelantan is a rural state in eastern Malaysian.
Comptroller of the royal household, Wan Ahmad Dahlan, told Channel NewsAsia that the 49-year-old king had officially notified the Malay rulers about his abdication through a letter sent to the secretary of the conference of rulers.
Dahlan said that the king had expressed his appreciation for Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the government for their cooperation. “During his tenure, His Majesty worked to fulfill his responsibilities and the trust placed in him as the head of state, serving as the pillar of stability, the source of justice and as an umbrella of the solidarity and unity of the people,” said Dahlan.
Reports circulated online earlier claimed that the king in November had married a former Miss Moscow in Russia. Malaysian royal officials are yet to comment on the rumours.