31 August 1957
Abdul Rahman of Negeri Sembilan
Istana Negara, Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong (literally "He Who Was Made Lord", Jawi: يڠ دڤرتوان اݢوڠ) is the monarch and head of state of Malaysia. The office was established in 1957 when the Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia) gained independence from the United Kingdom. Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy with an elected monarch as head of state. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is one of the few elected monarchs in the world. His queen consort is called Raja Permaisuri Agong. The couple are styled in English as "His Majesty" and "Her Majesty".
- List of Yang di Pertuan Agong
- Election proceedings
- Order of seniority of states
- Timbalan Yang di Pertuan Agong
- List of Timbalan Yang di Pertuan Agong
- The Council of Ministers Cabinet
- Commissions and committees
- State governors
- Head of Islam
- Duties as Commander in Chief
- Kings Birthday
- Kings Birthday Honours List Ceremony and Birthday High Tea
- Trooping the Colour
- Details of the Trooping
- Yang di Pertuan Agong Scholarship
- Royal Standards
- Royal style
In Malaysia's constitutional monarchy, Yang di-Pertuan Agong has extensive powers within the constitution. The constitution specifies that the executive power of the Federal government is vested in the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and is exercised by him on the advice of the federal Council of Ministers. The latter is headed by the Prime Minister, appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong from among the elected members of Parliament. Among them, Yang di-Pertuan Agong has discretionary powers to choose who he wants as the Prime Minister and is not bound by the decision of the outgoing PM if no party has won a majority vote (Article 40). It, however, does not afford him the right and authority to dismiss the PM. He also can dismiss or withhold consent to a request for the dissolution of Parliament (Article 40). He may discontinue or dissolve Parliament (Article 55) but he can only dissolve Parliament at the request of the PM (Article 43). He can reject any new laws or amendments to existing laws but if he still withholds permission, it will automatically become law after 30 days from the initial submission to him (Article 66).
The 15th and current Yang di-Pertuan Agong is Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan. His reign began on 13 December 2016, after his election on 14 October 2016 at the 243rd (special) Conference of Rulers. The ceremonial installation of the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong will be held on 24 April 2017.
The full title in Malay is Kebawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong , which could be literally translated into English as "Under the Dust of the Most High and Magnificent, His Conqueror Majesty, He who was made Supreme Lord" that is usually shortened to "His Majesty, The Yang di-Pertuan Agong"'
A literal English translation for "Yang di-Pertuan Agong" is "He who was made Supreme Lord". Common English terms used in the media and by the general public include "King", "Paramount Ruler", "Head of State", "Head of the Federation", and "Head of State of the Federation".
In Malaysian passports prior to the 2010 redesign, the title "The Supreme Head of Malaysia" was used in the English version of the passport note. Since the issuance of ICAO compliant e-passports in 2010, the untranslated title "His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia" is used.
In August 1957, having rejected the suggested title of Yang di-Pertuan Besar in favour of Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the Conference of Rulers elected the first occupant of the throne. By seniority, the 84-year-old major general Ibrahim of Johor, Sultan of Johor since 1895, was first in line, but he declined due to old age. The next in line, Abu Bakar of Pahang, Sultan of Pahang since 1932, was rejected five times by his fellow electors, and did not secure the necessary votes. Abdul Rahman of Negeri Sembilan, having been elected to his state throne (Yamtuan Besar) in 1933, was elected by eight votes to one.
The first Conference of Rulers comprised:
List of Yang di-Pertuan Agong
The following Rulers have served as Yang di-Pertuan Agong:
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is formally elected to a five-year term by and from among the nine rulers of the Malay states (nine of the thirteen states of Malaysia that have hereditary royal rulers), who form the Conference of Rulers (Majlis Raja-raja). After a ruler had served as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, he may not stand for election until all rulers of the other states have also stood for election.
In the event of a vacancy of the office (by death, resignation, or deposition by a majority vote of the rulers), the Conference of Rulers elects a new Yang di-Pertuan Agong as if the previous term had expired. The new Yang di-Pertuan Agong is elected for a full five-year term. After his term expires, the Conference holds a new election, in which the incumbent would not be re-elected.
The position de facto rotates among the nine Rulers. The selection of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong initially followed an order based on the seniority (calculated by length of reign) of each Ruler in 1957 at the Federation of Malaya's independence from the United Kingdom. The Conference of Rulers, which has the power to disqualify a candidate, has sometimes varied the original seniority order, as noted above. Minors are automatically disqualified from office.
The Conference of Rulers has met regularly since 1895. The four governors (Yang di-Pertua Negeri), or heads of states without hereditary rulers, also attend the Conference, but only Rulers are allowed to vote and stand for election as Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
The Constitution provides that a Ruler is not eligible for election as Yang di-Pertuan Agong if:
The election is carried out by a secret ballot. The ballot papers used are not numbered, but marked with the same pen and ink, and are inserted into a ballot box. Only the Rulers participate in the election.
A Ruler may appoint another Ruler as his proxy to vote on his behalf if he is unable to attend the Election Meeting.
During the election process, the Keeper of the Rulers' Seal distributes the ballot with only one candidate. Each Ruler is requested to indicate whether the candidate is suitable or not to be elected as Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
The most junior Ruler, who is not listed as nominee for the office of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, or the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is appointed to count the ballot papers together with the Keeper of the Rulers' Seal.
The nominee must have obtained five votes before the Ruler presiding over the Election Meeting offers him the office of Yang di-Pertuan Agong. If the successful nominee declines the offer or the nominated Ruler fails to secure the required majority votes, the voting process is repeated with the nomination of the second most senior Ruler based on the list of Seniority of States. Rulers are named, and stand for election in turn.
The process is completed only after a Ruler has accepted the offer of the office of Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The Conference declares the Ruler as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to hold office for a term of five years. The ballot papers are destroyed in the presence of the Rulers as soon as the result of the election is announced.
On taking office as Yang di-Pertuan Agong, he appoints a regent for the duration of his five-year term for the state which he rules. Usually, but not always, the regent is a close relative. The regent acts as head of state in that state for every purpose except for the role of head of Islam, which is retained by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
See also: Installation of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for details of the installation ceremony
Order of seniority of states
Since the first cycle of nine Yang di-Pertuan Agong (1957–1994), the order among the eligible state rulers has followed the order established by that cycle, namely:
- the Yamtuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan
- the Sultan of Selangor
- the Raja of Perlis
- the Sultan of Terengganu
- the Sultan of Kedah
- the Sultan of Kelantan
- the Sultan of Pahang
- the Sultan of Johor
- the Sultan of Perak
This cycle was originally established based on seniority. However, the current Rulers are named (and stand as a candidate) according to the cycle, irrespective of whether they are currently the most senior. Since independence from British Colonial Rule, this has been the order of elected Yang di-Pertuan Agong. However, the order is not a precedent and the election to the position of Yang di-Pertuan Agong is at the pleasure of the Conference of Rulers. As an elective monarchy, there is no line of succession to the throne of Malaysia.
Four of the states of Malaysia currently have no hereditary royal rulers. These are Penang and Malacca in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo in East Malaysia. Sarawak previously had a hereditary ruler until it was incorporated into Malaya in 1946. These four states, along with Malaysia's three federal territories, never supply the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong
The Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong) is elected by the same process immediately after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The office is usually (but not always) held by the ruler next in line after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong exercises the functions of the head of state during the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's absence, or inability to exercise his functions due to illness or infirmity (similar to a regent in other countries).
The Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong does not automatically succeed as Yang di-Pertuan Agong when a vacancy occurs in that office. The Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong acts as head of state before the election of the new Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
The current Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong is Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah of Perak since 13 December 2016.
List of Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong
The following Rulers have served as Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong:
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong's role is that of a constitutional monarch. The Federal Constitution and Parliamentary Acts made in accordance with it define the extent of his powers as the Federal Head of State. The executive power of the federal government is vested in him.
The monarch's powers are basically divided into two broad categories:
The discretionary powers of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong pertain chiefly to appointing the Prime Minister, withholding consent to dissolve Parliament, and calling meetings with the Conference of Rulers "concerned solely with the privileges, position, honours and dignities of Their Royal Highnesses." Under the Westminster System, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is expected to appoint a Prime Minister who will command the confidence of a majority of the elected lower house of Parliament, the Dewan Rakyat. Should the Prime Minister be or become unacceptable, he may be forced out by a vote of no confidence, which would require the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to dissolve Parliament on advice of the Prime Minister, or refuse to dissolve Parliament and appoint someone else as Prime Minister. Conventionally, the Prime Minister is the head of the party with a majority in Parliament. Since independence in 1957, this has been the Barisan Nasional (National Front, formerly known as the Alliance).
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong renews the appointment of a Prime Minister after every general election until the minister decides to step down. Whenever the Prime Minister chooses to dissolve Parliament, he calls for a general election. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may choose to refuse a Prime Minister's request to dissolve Parliament, as one of his discretionary powers.
The official residence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is Istana Negara (the State Palace) located in Jalan Duta in the federal capital Kuala Lumpur. It was completed in 2011. The old Istana Negara will be turned into a royal museum. Other residences include the royal retreat, Istana Melawati (Melawati Palace) in the federal administrative capital Putrajaya. It is also the venue of meetings of the Conference of Rulers (Malay: Majlis Raja-raja), which elects the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong appoints numerous high-ranking office holders in the Federation under the terms of the Constitution and various Acts passed by Parliament. The constitution established procedures for such appointments.
The Council of Ministers (Cabinet)
Commissions and committees
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong appoints 44 members of the Dewan Negara, the Malaysian Senate.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong appoints the Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Governors), of the states of Penang, Malacca, Sabah and Sarawak, at his discretion, after considering the advice of the state's Chief Minister.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong also appoints the Mayor and City Council of Kuala Lumpur, which is a Federal Territory.
Head of Islam
In addition, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is the Head of Islam in the four states ruled by appointed Governors, in the three Federal Territories, as well as in his own state. In this role, he is advised by the State Islamic Affairs Council in each of the States.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong appoints the chairman and members of each council. He also appoints the State Mufti in each of these states. There is a single Islamic Affairs Council with jurisdiction for the three Federal Territories. This council is also appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Duties as Commander-in-Chief
In accordance with Article 41 of the Federal Constitution, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is Commander-in-Chief of the Federation's Armed Forces. As such, he is the highest-ranking officer in the military chain of command.
As the Supreme Commander of the Malaysian Armed Forces, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong appoints the Chief of the Armed Forces Staff, on the advice of the Armed Forces Council. He also appoints the service heads of each of the three branches of the military forces.
The first Saturday of June yearly is mandated by law as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's official birthday. It is marked with various activities all over the nation and the celebrations in Kuala Lumpur are the highlights of the national festivities, with the celebrations of it from 2013 onward now lasting a whole week and two weekends.
King's Birthday Honours List Ceremony and Birthday High Tea
The Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur serves as the venue for the annual King's Birthday Honours List and Address to the Nation ceremony attended by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Raja Permaisuri Agong, members of the Federal Government and Parliament, the state diplomatic corps, honoured guests and the Honours List members for the year, in the order of precedence of state medals. The event honours the year's national achievers and heroes with the awarding of state orders, medals and decorations and their accompanying titles. The King addresses the whole nation via radio and television on this day from the Throne Room of the palace complex. It is followed later by the traditional holiday high tea gathering at the palace grounds in the afternoon.
Trooping the Colour
Trooping the Colour in Malaysia, although inherited from the British, has transformed into a grander and more Malaysian celebration on the first Saturday of June annually live on Kuala Lumpur's Independence Square, which is both open to invited guests and the general public. As the Supreme Commander of the Malaysian Armed Forces, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong takes the salute on this day together with the commanders of the three services of the Malaysian Armed Forces, the Joint Forces Command, Malaysia and the members of the Malaysian Armed Forces Council, of which he is the chairman, plus military personnel and veterans in attendance. He wears the No.1 dress uniform on that day, and as each of the 8 state monarchs are Colonel-in-Chief of selected Malaysian Army regiments as well as of the Royal Malaysian Air Force and the Sultan of Selangor serves as Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Malaysian Navy, he wears that regiment's coloured sash as part of his ceremonial uniform (for the Army), or the RMAF blue or RMN white no.1 dress uniform. The 2013 edition was held on the 2nd Saturday of June for the first time in its history, the 2016 parade was held on the 4th Friday of July (22 July) for the first time in Putrajaya, the national seat of government.
Several features distinguish the Malaysian ceremony from other similar ones:
All three branches of the Armed Forces – the Malaysian Army (represented by the Royal Malay Regiment, the Royal Armoured Corps and others), the Royal Malaysian Navy, and the Royal Malaysian Air Force – participate in the Trooping, in their No. 1 uniforms. The band in attendance is either the Central Band of the Armed Forces or the Band of the National Defence University.
The Colours Party and the Escort for (to) the Colours also reflect the three participant Armed Forces branches. The Colours Party is composed of Ensigns, Colour Sergeants and assistant soldiers making up three Colours Parties from the Army, and there is also a single Colour Party each from the Navy and the Air Force. The Escort for (to) the Colours is a composite company, comprising an Army platoon and a squad each from the Navy and Air Force ready to receive their respective colours during the ceremony. The Parade Field Officer, Brigade Major and Adjutant are also from all the Armed Forces branches, and so too are the Regimental Sergeants-Major and Colour Sergeants.
RTM broadcasts this unique ceremony live, with the telecast starting at 8:50 in the morning with a nationwide simulcast.
Details of the Trooping
Yang di-Pertuan Agong Scholarship
In November 2006, the 10th Yang di-Pertuan Agong awarded, for the first time, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Scholarship to ten outstanding students to pursue postgraduate studies at high-ranking world universities. The award of scholarships was held at the Istana Negara in conjunction with the Independence Day celebrations and the Conference of Rulers.
In 1993, amendments to the Malaysian constitution removed the legal immunity of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the rulers in their personal capacity, due to public outrage over their behaviour. A Special Court (Makhamah Khas Raja-raja) is established where civil and criminal proceedings can be made against a ruler with the approval of the Attorney General. The right to sue a ruler is limited to Malaysian citizens following a precedent. The Special Court also have jurisdiction where a ruler initiates legal actions against any party.
When a ruler is charged with an offence in the Special Court, he is required to stop exercising the functions of a ruler. In the event of a ruler being sentenced to imprisonment for more than one day, he will cease to be a ruler unless a free pardon is granted.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong or any ruler cannot pardon himself or his immediate family. In such case, they may request clemency from the Conference of Rulers.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong cannot be sued in court for his actions while carrying out his official duties. Any claims can be made against the federal government.
The Royal Standard of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is royal yellow with the Coat of arms of Malaysia in the centre, surrounded by a rice paddy wreath. The same goes for the Royal Standards of the Raja Permaisuri Agong and the Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong, but the designs are different. The Raja Permaisuri Agong's standard is green in colour, with the coat of arms at the centre surrounded by the paddy wreath. The Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong's standard is bicolored, yellow at the top and light blue at the bottom, with the coat of arms at the centre (without the paddy) and below that is the office bearer's title.
Formal address to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is taken seriously in Malaysia. There are two ways of addressing the Yang di-Pertuan Agong: