Malaysia state’s new sultan tipped to be country’s next king

In this Jan. 11, 2019, photo, Pahang state Crown Prince Tengku Abdullah arrives for a private event at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur. (AP)
Updated 12 January 2019
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Malaysia state’s new sultan tipped to be country’s next king

  • Sultan Muhammad V suddenly abdicated after just two years on the throne
  • The monarch's role is largely ceremonial, since administrative power is vested in the prime minister and parliament

KUALA LUMPUR: The central Malaysian state of Pahang’s soon-to-be new sultan is tipped to become the country’s next king under a unique rotating monarchy system.
The Conference of Rulers has said it will pick a new king among nine hereditary state rulers on Jan. 24 following the sudden abdication of Sultan Muhammad V after just two years on the throne. No reasons were given for the Jan. 6 abdication, the first in the nation’s history, which came after the 49-year-old Sultan Muhammad V reportedly married a former Russian beauty queen.
Pahang’s 88-year-old Sultan Ahmad Shah is next in line to be king, but he is gravely ill.
Tengku Abdullah, currently the regent of Pahang, will succeed Sultan Ahmad Shah on Tuesday, the Pahang palace announced Saturday.
Pahang royal council member Tengku Abdul Rahman was reported saying that royal family members and the council have agreed that his brother Tengku Abdullah, 59, will ascend the state throne because Sultan Ahmad Shah “can no longer shoulder the duties and responsibilities as ruler.”
Tengku Abdullah, who has been state regent for the past two years due to the sultan’s ill health, is a FIFA council member and president of the Asian Hockey Federation.
If Sultan Ahmad Shah doesn’t abdicate, he is unlikely to be elected king due to his sickness and the position could then go to the wealthy sultan of southern Johor state. The succession issue will not be confirmed before Jan. 24. At least five out of the nine state rulers must support Tengku Abdullah, local media said.
The nine ethnic Malay state rulers take turns serving as Malaysia’s king for five-year terms under the world’s only such system, which has been maintained since the country’s independence from Britain in 1957.
The monarch's role is largely ceremonial, since administrative power is vested in the prime minister and parliament. But the monarch is highly regarded as the supreme upholder of Malay tradition, particularly among the ethnic Malay Muslim majority.


Seoul: North Korea withdrew staff from liaison office

Updated 22 March 2019
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Seoul: North Korea withdrew staff from liaison office

  • The second US-North Korea summit in Vietnam collapsed due to disputes over US-led sanctions on the North
  • The South Korean statement calls the North’s decision “regrettable”

SEOUL: North Korea abruptly withdrew its staff from an inter-Korean liaison office in the North on Friday, Seoul officials said.
The development will likely put a damper on ties between the Koreas and complicate global diplomacy on the North’s nuclear weapons program. Last month, the second US-North Korea summit in Vietnam collapsed due to disputes over US-led sanctions on the North.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry said that North Korea informed South Korea of its decision during a meeting at the liaison office at the North Korean border town of Kaesong on Friday.
The North said it “is pulling out with instructions from the superior authority,” according to a Unification Ministry statement. It didn’t say whether North Korea’s withdrawal of staff would be temporary or permanent.
According to the South Korean statement, the North added that it “will not mind the South remaining in the office” and that it would notify the South about practical matters later. Seoul’s Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung told reporters that South Korea plans to continue to staff the Kaesong liaison office normally and that it expects the North will continue to allow the South Koreans to commute to the office. He said Seoul plans to staff the office with 25 people on Saturday and Sunday.
The South Korean statement calls the North’s decision “regrettable.” It said South Korea urges the North to return its staff to the liaison office soon.
The liaison office opened last September as part of a flurry of reconciliation steps. It is the first such Korean office since the peninsula was split into a US-backed, capitalistic South and a Soviet-supported, socialist North in 1945. The Koreas had previously used telephone and fax-like communication channels that were often shut down in times of high tension.
The town is where the Korea’s now-stalled jointly run factory complex was located. It combined South Korean initiatives, capital and technology with North Korea’s cheap labor. Both Koreas want the US to allow sanctions exemptions to allow the reopening of the factory park, which provided the North with much-needed foreign currency.