Thursday, 13 December, 2001

Malaysia's King sworn in

New King

The new king of Malaysia, Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin, has been sworn in during a lavish ceremony at the royal palace in the capital, Kuala Lumpur.
The country's sultans and rajas, along with the prime minister, Mahathir Mohammad, and senior politicians attended the ceremony.
The new king, who is the Raja of Perlis, was chosen by secret ballot by the other eight traditional Malay rulers.
Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin, who is 58, replaces Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, who died in office last month after complications from heart surgery.
The new king was sworn in with a 21-gun salute and Muslim prayers.
He said: "I hereby pledge to remain loyal in carrying out the roles and responsibilities that have been or that will be determined by the laws and the constitution of the country."
Earlier he inspected a guard of honour formed by more than 100 troops from the 1st Battalion Royal Malay Regiment in the city's Parliament Square.
Under the rotational system of succession, each of the state rulers occupies the throne for five years.
The king's role is largely ceremonial, with power in the hands of parliament and the prime minister.
Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin is Malaysia's 12th monarch, known in Malay as Yang di-Pertuan Agong - He Who is Made Lord.
As the new king, the Sandhurst-trained former army officer, is head of state, as well as the nominal head of the military and all three branches of government. He will sign bills and appoint ministers, judges and ambassadors.
For ethnic Malays, who make up about 60% of the population, the king is also the supreme upholder of Malay tradition and the symbolic head of Islam.
Under the law, the king still has discretionary powers of the appointment of prime ministers and can withhold his consent to any request to dissolve parliament.
In two of the nine states belonging to the so-called Conference of Rulers, including Perlis, the rulers are rajas. The other seven use the title of sultan.
Four other states do not have royal rulers.
The previous king, who was crowned in September 1999, was known to be blunt and outspoken but also enjoyed a reputation as a man of the people.