New Malaysian king sworn in


THE billionaire sultan who rules Malaysia's Johor state was sworn in as the nation's new king Wednesday under a unique rotating monarchy system. Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar, 65, took his oath of office at the palace and signed the instrument of the proclamation of office in a ceremony witnessed by other royal families, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and Cabinet members. A coronation ceremony will be held later.

One of the richest men in the country, Sultan Ibrahim has an extensive business empire ranging from real estate to telecoms and power plants. The candid monarch has close ties with Anwar and his rule could bolster Anwar's unity government, which faces a strong Islamic opposition.

Nine ethnic Malay state rulers have taken turns as king for five-year terms under the world's only such system since Malaysia gained independence from Britain in 1957.

Sultan Ibrahim's election to the national throne by his fellow rulers in October was widely expected based on an established rotation order. Sultan Nazrin Shah, the ruler of Perak state and next in line to the throne, was reelected as deputy king.

The king plays a largely ceremonial role, as administrative power is vested in the prime minister and Parliament. The monarch is the nominal head of the government and armed forces, and is highly regarded as the protector of Islam and Malay tradition. All laws, Cabinet appointments and the dissolution of Parliament for general elections require his assent. The king has the power to proclaim an emergency and pardon criminals.

Sultan Ibrahim succeeded Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang state.


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