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Yang di-Pertuan Agong

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Jawi: يڠ د-ڤرتوان اڬوڠ) is the head of state of Malaysia. The office was established in 1957 when the Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia) gained independence. A literal English translation of the title is “He who is made Lord”. However, common alternatives are “King”, “Supreme Ruler”, “Paramount Ruler”, or “Supreme Head of State”. 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.

Since 1993, the full title in Malay has been, Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong (His Conqueror Majesty The Supreme Lord of the Federation). Prior to that, the honorific Ke Bawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia (The Dust Under The Feet of His Majesty) was also used. The consort of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is called the Raja Permaisuri Agong (Queen Lady Consort). The couple are addressed in English as “His Majesty” and “Her Majesty”.

In Malaysia’s constitutional monarchy, the role of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is largely ceremonial. 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.

The 14th and current Yang di-Pertuan Agong is Sultan Abdul Halim of Kedah. His reign began on 13 December 2011 after his election by the Conference of Rulers. He previously served as the fifth Yang di-Pertuan Agong from 1970 to 1975. He is the first ruler to hold the position twice, as well as the oldest elected to the office at 83 years old. The installation of the new Yang di-Pertuan Agong was held on 11 April 2012, at the new Istana Negara at Jalan Duta.

List of Yang di-Pertuan Agong

The following Rulers have served as Yang di-Pertuan Agong:

No. Name State Reign Age on Reign Birth Death
1 Tuanku Abdul Rahman Negeri Sembilan 31 August 1957 – 1 April 1960 (2 years, 214 days) 62 – 65 24 August 1895 1 April 1960
2 Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah Selangor 14 April 1960 – 1 September 1960 (0 years, 140 days) 62 13 May 1898 1 September 1960
3 Tuanku Syed Putra Perlis 21 September 1960 – 20 September 1965 (4 years, 364 days) 40 – 45 25 November 1920 16 April 2000
4 Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Terengganu 21 September 1965 – 20 September 1970 (4 years, 364 days) 58 – 63 24 January 1907 20 September 1979
5 Tuanku Abdul Halim
1st term of office
Kedah 21 September 1970  – 20 September 1975 (4 years, 364 days) 43 – 48 28 November 1927
6 Sultan Yahya Petra Kelantan 21 September 1975 – 29 March 1979 (3 years, 189 days) 58 – 62 10 December 1917 29 March 1979
7 Sultan Ahmad Shah Al-Mustain Billah Pahang 29 March 1979 – 25 April 1984 (5 years, 27 days) 49 – 54 24 October 1930
8 Sultan Iskandar Johor 26 April 1984 – 25 April 1989 (4 years, 364 days) 52 – 57 8 April 1932 22 January 2010
9 Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah Perak 26 April 1989 – 25 April 1994 (4 years, 364 days) 61 – 66 19 April 1928
10 Tuanku Jaafar Negeri Sembilan 26 April 1994 – 25 April 1999 (4 years, 364 days) 72 – 77 19 July 1922 27 December 2008
11 Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Selangor 26 April 1999 – 21 November 2001 (2 years, 209 days) 73 – 75 8 March 1926 21 November 2001
12 Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Perlis 13 December 2001 – 12 December 2006 (4 years, 364 days) 58 – 63 17 May 1943
13 Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Terengganu 13 December 2006 – 12 December 2011 (4 years, 364 days) 44 – 49 22 January 1962
14 Tuanku Abdul Halim
2nd term of office
Kedah 13 December 2011 – present (0 years, 240 days) 84 - 28 November 1927

Election
The compound of the Istana Negara at Jalan Istana, official residence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong from 1957 to 2011. It is replaced by the new Istana Negara at Jalan Duta in 2011.

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 be re-elected again until all other states had taken their turns.

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. Minors are automatically disqualified from office. After each of the nine Rulers of the states had served as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the order of seniority was based on the order of the states whose rulers have been elected the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

The Conference of Rulers has met regularly since 1895. The membership of the council includes the four governors (Yang di-Pertua Negeri), but only royal rulers are allowed to vote and stand for election as Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Qualifications

  • Only a royal ruler may be elected.
  • Only the royal rulers may vote.
  • Rulers are elected in turn.

The Constitution provides that a Ruler is not eligible for election as Yang di-Pertuan Agong if:

  • The Ruler is a minor.
  • The Ruler has notified the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal that he does not wish to be elected.
  • The Conference of Rulers by a secret ballot resolves that the Ruler is unsuitable by reason of infirmity of mind or body, or for any other cause, to exercise the functions of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The resolution requires at least five members of the Conference to vote in favour of it.

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