Malaysia state’s new sultan tipped to be country’s next king

In this Jan. 11, 2019, photo, Pahang state Crown Prince Tengku Abdullah arrives for a private event at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur. (AP)
Updated 12 January 2019
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Malaysia state’s new sultan tipped to be country’s next king

  • Sultan Muhammad V suddenly abdicated after just two years on the throne
  • The monarch's role is largely ceremonial, since administrative power is vested in the prime minister and parliament

KUALA LUMPUR: The central Malaysian state of Pahang’s soon-to-be new sultan is tipped to become the country’s next king under a unique rotating monarchy system.
The Conference of Rulers has said it will pick a new king among nine hereditary state rulers on Jan. 24 following the sudden abdication of Sultan Muhammad V after just two years on the throne. No reasons were given for the Jan. 6 abdication, the first in the nation’s history, which came after the 49-year-old Sultan Muhammad V reportedly married a former Russian beauty queen.
Pahang’s 88-year-old Sultan Ahmad Shah is next in line to be king, but he is gravely ill.
Tengku Abdullah, currently the regent of Pahang, will succeed Sultan Ahmad Shah on Tuesday, the Pahang palace announced Saturday.
Pahang royal council member Tengku Abdul Rahman was reported saying that royal family members and the council have agreed that his brother Tengku Abdullah, 59, will ascend the state throne because Sultan Ahmad Shah “can no longer shoulder the duties and responsibilities as ruler.”
Tengku Abdullah, who has been state regent for the past two years due to the sultan’s ill health, is a FIFA council member and president of the Asian Hockey Federation.
If Sultan Ahmad Shah doesn’t abdicate, he is unlikely to be elected king due to his sickness and the position could then go to the wealthy sultan of southern Johor state. The succession issue will not be confirmed before Jan. 24. At least five out of the nine state rulers must support Tengku Abdullah, local media said.
The nine ethnic Malay state rulers take turns serving as Malaysia’s king for five-year terms under the world’s only such system, which has been maintained since the country’s independence from Britain in 1957.
The monarch's role is largely ceremonial, since administrative power is vested in the prime minister and parliament. But the monarch is highly regarded as the supreme upholder of Malay tradition, particularly among the ethnic Malay Muslim majority.


‘Results’ needed from Myanmar over Rohingya return: UNHCR head

Updated 24 May 2019
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‘Results’ needed from Myanmar over Rohingya return: UNHCR head

  • A UN fact-finding mission called for Myanmar’s top generals to be prosecuted for “genocide”
  • Myanmar pejoratively labels the Rohingya as “Bengali,” implying they are illegal interlopers

YANGON: Myanmar must “show results” to convince Rohingya refugees to return, the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Friday at the end of his first visit to Myanmar since the crackdown against Rohingya Muslims in 2017.
A brutal military campaign in western Rakhine state forced some 740,000 Rohingya over the border into Bangladesh.
Around one million Rohingya now languish in sprawling refugee camps from various waves of persecution.
A UN fact-finding mission called for Myanmar’s top generals to be prosecuted for “genocide” and the International Criminal Court (ICC) has started preliminary investigations.
During his visit Grandi spoke with both Rohingya and ethnic Rakhine Buddhist communities in Maungdaw and Buthidaung in northern Rakhine, the epicenter of the violence.
He also held discussions with officials in capital Naypyidaw, including civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, describing all talks as “constructive.”
“My message is: ‘please accelerate’, because it has been very slow in the implementation in this first year. We need to show results,” he told AFP in an interview in Yangon.
“This is not enough to convince people to come back,” he said.
Grandi visited the camps in Bangladesh in April.
The two countries have signed a repatriation agreement but so far virtually no refugees have returned, fearing for their safety and unconvinced they will be granted citizenship.
Myanmar pejoratively labels the Rohingya as “Bengali,” implying they are illegal interlopers and the community has had its rights eroded over decades.
Gaining independent access to northern Rakhine is difficult with most journalists, observers and diplomats only allowed on brief chaperoned visits.
Grandi defended the UNHCR’s involvement in a plan by the Bangladeshi government to move some 100,000 refugees onto low-lying island Bhashan Char.
The area in the Bay of Bengal is prone to flooding and cyclones.
Rights groups oppose the scheme that has also so far been universally rejected by the Rohingya themselves.
The refugee agency must be “involved” to have the necessary information in order to take a stance on the issue, Grandi said.
“We’re still at that stage, no more than that.”
He also visited camps near Rakhine’s capital Sittwe, where nearly 130,000 Rohingya have been confined since a previous bout of violence in 2012.
Myanmar has announced it will close the camps but many are skeptical the displaced will enjoy more freedoms.
Grandi said the UNHCR would reconsider its role in providing services if conditions did not substantially improve.
“To simply transform the camps, upgrade the camps, upgrade the houses, for example, but leave them in the same situation will not be a solution,” he said.