In a ceremony at the national palace in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia has Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar Sworn as its 17th king. This traditional practice, where nine ethnic Malay state rulers take turns as the king for five-year terms, has been in place since Malaysia gained independence from Britain in 1957.
Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, at 65 years old, is a ceremonial figurehead. Known for his outspoken nature, motorcycle rides, and a collection of luxury cars and motorcycles, he hails from the powerful Johor royal family.
Bloomberg estimates his family’s wealth at least $5.7 billion, diverse investments in land, real estate, telecommunications, and palm oil.
The Sultan Ibrahim’s business empire encompasses real estate, mining, and telecommunications, with involvement in the Forest City project, a $100 billion China-backed development off the coast of Johor.
Sultan Ibrahim, however, defends his business dealings, addressing the need to earn a living, like ordinary Malaysians.
Sultan Ibrahim’s image shows his social media presence, where he and his family offer glimpses into royal life, amassing hundreds of thousands of followers on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
Sultan Ibrahim, in an interview with Singapore’s The Straits Times, expressed his reluctance to be a puppet king.
He addressed his commitment to supporting the government while maintaining the right to voice concerns if he perceives any impropriety.
The king’s powers, including the authority to pardon, have been exercised in crucial instances, such as the pardon granted to Anwar Ibrahim in 2018. Anwar, a former political prisoner, now holds the position of Malaysia’s prime minister.
As Sultan Ibrahim assumes the throne, Malaysia is experiencing a period of calm, with Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim leading a unity government.
The monarch’s role in maintaining political stability has become more pronounced, especially following the election in 2018 that saw the end of the United Malays National Organisation’s 60-year on power.
Sultan Ibrahim’s predecessor, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, ensured a smooth transfer of power during the 2018 transition.
The monarchy’s involvement in resolving political uncertainties, including the appointment of prime ministers and responding to calls for a state of emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sultan Ibrahim took the oath of office, pledging to rule fairly for Malaysia in accordance with the laws and constitution.
He has expressed his intention to be an active monarch, advocating for a hands-on approach to address issues such as corruption and unity.
The Sultan Ibrahim’s proposed involvement in directing Malaysia’s state oil firm, Petroliam Nasional, and overseeing the country’s anti-corruption agency shows his desire to influence areas of governance.
Malaysia faces challenges such as a corruption crackdown involving political figures from the Mahathir era.
There is speculation about a possible pardon for former Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is serving a sentence related to the 1MDB scandal.
The Sultan Ibrahim’s outspoken nature and stance against corruption, as expressed in the interview with The Straits Times, show a commitment to addressing issues that have plagued Malaysian politics.
Sultan Ibrahim has expressed support for a high-speed rail link between Malaysia and Singapore, a project previously put on hold due to cost concerns.
Additionally, an agreement with Singapore to establish a special economic zone shows efforts to enhance connectivity and economic collaboration.