Sultan Muhammad V

Why did Sultan Muhammad V resign?

It has the making of a thrilling episode for The Royals.

The Malaysian monarchy has seen a drama-filled start to the year. Barely six days into 2019 and the nation is shocked by the abdication of Sultan Muhammad V as the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong – an unprecedented move by the royal institution.

Istana Negara confirmed the Kelantan ruler had decided to step down “effective Jan 6, in accordance with Article 32(3) of the Federal Constitution.”

The statement, signed off by the Comptroller of the Royal Household, Datuk Wan Ahmad Dahlan Ab Aziz, ended with: “Sultan Muhammad V is now ready to depart home to Kelantan, to protect and develop Kelantan for the welfare of the people.”

No reason was given as to why Sultan Muhammad V decided to step down after serving slightly over two years as King.

Sultan Muhammad V was on a two-month leave for “medical treatment” – and during his absence there were reports of him marrying a former Russian beauty queen. There has not been any official statement by the palace regarding the matter.

The conspiracy theorists, including those who believe this is political play of the highest order, are having a field day.

The News Straits Times had in its front page report ‘Unscheduled Meeting’ on Friday, reported about a “rare and unscheduled meeting” among rulers last Wednesday night in the absence of Sultan Muhammad V.

New Straits Times front page
New Straits Times front page report about the unscheduled meeting.

The matter was also highlighted by The Malaysian Reserve editor Shamsul Akmar, who is also Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s special officer, in his column Friday Jottings on the same day.

Linking the “rulers’ meeting” and Sultan Muhammad V’s position on the throne is inevitable.

Former Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali said Sultan Muhammad V cannot be removed as Yang di-Pertuan Agong just because he allegedly married a foreigner. The Kelantan government threw its support for its ruler.

The series of events in recent days have also raised many questions.

  • Did the “rare and unscheduled meeting” conform to the practices involving rulers?
  • Why was Sultan Muhammad V absent from the meeting? Was the Kelantan ruler even informed about the meeting? If yes, was he given ample time to respond to the invitation?
  • Were any decisions made during the supposed “rare and unscheduled meeting” that led to Sultan Muhammad V’s decision to step down? If yes, wouldn’t this set a precedent?
  • Who will now replace Sultan Muhammad V?

But the one question that hungers for an immediate answer – why did Sultan Muhammad V abdicate?