KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 27 – The year 2019 proves to have huge significance in the life of Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah when he was appointed as Malaysia’s 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong, nine days after he was proclaimed as the sixth Sultan of Pahang.
Al-Sultan Abdullah ascended the Pahang throne on Jan 15 to replace Paduka Ayahanda Sultan Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah.
On Jan 24, a special meeting of the Conference of Rulers was held at Istana Negara to select the new King for Malaysia following the sudden resignation of the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V on Jan 6.
Sultan Muhammad V is the first Yang di-Pertuan Agong in Malaysian history to step down from the throne after taking the oath of office on Dec 13, 2016.
Since Pahang was already next in line (according to the constitutional monarchy rotation system), the meeting agreed to select Al-Sultan Abdullah as the new Yang di-Pertuan Agong for a five-year term effective Jan 31, 2019, and Sultan Nazrin Shah of Perak as Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong for the same five-year term.
Al-Sultan Abdullah was installed as the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong in a ceremony steeped in military and royal Malay tradition at the main square of Istana Negara on July 30.
“To be honest, I didn’t expect to be up here so soon, but God already paved the way for me here. It is never easy and it is not going to be easy too,” the King was quoted as saying during a dinner with the Malaysian diaspora in the United Kingdom earlier this month.
The installation on July 30, 2019, also has another historical significance because Al-Sultan Abdullah and the Raja Permaisuri Agong, Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, are the children of sultans who have been elected as the seventh and eighth Yang di-Pertuan Agong, namely the late Sultan Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah of Pahang (1979-1984) and the late Sultan Iskandar of Johor (1984-1989).
Right after ascending the federal throne, Al-Sultan Abdullah’s daily itinerary was filled with various official duties.
Comptroller of the Royal Household for Istana Negara, Datuk Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin in a statement said His Majesty would also spend his time studying every memorandum, Cabinet Note and reports, a day before any pre-Cabinet meeting.
The pre-Cabinet meeting is among the King’s weekly routines to discuss and exchange views with the Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and it is normally held at Istana Melawati, Putrajaya.
“This is proof that Al-Sultan Abdullah cares, not only about the country’s management and administrative affairs but most importantly, about the wellbeing of the people,” he said.
Throughout the year 2019, Al-Sultan Abdullah and Tunku Azizah had undertaken visits to various states in Malaysia and other countries, including Indonesia and Brunei.
The royal couple also attended the enthronement ceremony of the 126th Emperor of Japan, Emperor Naruhito, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo in October, and met with Queen Elizabeth II during their special visit to the United Kingdom earlier this month.
Al-Sultan Abdullah and Tunku Azizah, who are known for their polite demeanour and concern for the people have also given a new narrative for the term Raja dan rakyat berpisah tiada (the Ruler and the people are inseparable).
On social media, pictures and videos showing the down-to-earth Al-Sultan Abdullah ignoring protocol to help victims of road accidents or disasters have gone viral on quite a few occasions.
On Twitter, Tunku Azizah has been actively interacting with her ‘followers’ by sharing pictures and video clips of the royal family’s activities, a move which was proven successful in bringing the royalties closer to the people.
Needless to say, Her Majesty has also become a famous trendsetter and influencer among Malaysian women, brides in particular, with her fashionable style of wearing a shawl.
Last June, Tunku Azizah became the first woman appointed as the constitutional head (Chancellor) of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), and earlier this month, she was also honoured with the 2019 Craft Icon of the Year award by the World Crafts Council (WCC) for her contributions in keeping the traditional craft heritage alive.
Several heartbreaking events concerning the monarchy institution in Malaysia have also taken place in the year 2019, including the death of the fifth Sultan of Pahang, Paduka Ayahanda Sultan Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah at the National Heart Institute on May 22.
On Sept 28, the country was again saddened by the demise of the 28th Sultan of Kelantan Sultan Ismail Petra at the Royal Ward of Raja Perempuan Zainab II Hospital.