Who will be next king of Malaysia? Sultans of Kelantan and Pahang lead race

Nine regional Sultans have the right to choose the next king.

Malaysian Sultans start conclave to elect next King
Malaysia's King Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah delivers his royal address next to Queen Haminah during the opening of the parliament sitting at Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur June 25, 2013. REUTERS

Malaysia's process to elect the next king has gone underway in Kuala Lumpur as current king Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah's five-year term is coming to an end.

The Sultan of Kelantan is slated to be elected as the next king in line with the elaborate traditions followed by Malaysia's ruling Sultans. However, local reports say the 47-year-old Sultan faces challenges.

Malaysia follows a system of elected monarchy although the monarch is only the titular head and the elected prime minister leads the government.

Under Malaysia's complex system to elect the monarch, nine regional Sultans have the right to choose the next king.

The federal constitution has laid down rules of succession to the throne, but traditions and conventions have a role as well. The nine Sultans share the throne in five-year terms and the next in line to assume power is the Sultan of Kelantan. However, Muhammad V took the throne in 2010 after his father was removed owing to disability.

As per conventions, the sultanate that has a leadership change owing to death, removal or resignation is relegated to the bottom of the succession list.

Moreover, another unwritten tradition mandates the King to be married, but the sultan of Kelantan is single currently, following a divorce.

If Kelantan is sidestepped in the process, the crown will go to Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang, but the catch is that he is already 85 years old and had once held the monarchy between 1979 and 1984.

The Sultans of Negeri Sembilan, Selangor, Perlis, Terengganu, Kedah, Kelantan, Pahang, Johor and Perak hold a conclave to elect the king.

The governors of Malacca, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak are not allowed to take part in the secret voting to elect the king, even though they are part of the Conference of Rulers.

The three-day meeting of the Sultans to elect the next Yang Di Pertuan Agong will conclude on October 14.