Replicas of the thrones of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and his wife, National History Museum, Kuala Lumpur
Yang di-Pertuan Agong, a Malay title usually translated as "Supreme Head", "Supreme Ruler" or "Paramount Ruler", is the official title of the head of state of Malaysia. The position is often glossed as King in English. Since 1993, the full title in Malay has been, Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Prior to that the prefix Ke Bawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia was also used.
Since Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy, the role of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is largely ceremonial. The constitution specifies that executive power, theoretically vested in the head of state, is exercised by (or on the advice of) the Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister.
The 12th and current Yang di-Pertuan Agong is Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin ibni Almarhum Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail, the Raja of Perlis.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong appoints the (ceremonial) Yang di-Pertua Negeri, or Governors, of the other four states of Penang, Malacca, Sabah and Sarawak.
By convention the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's birthday is officially celebrated on the first Saturday of June, regardless of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's real birthday.
In a feature unique to the Malaysian monarchy, the position is rotated every five years between the nine Rulers of the Malay states. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is elected by and from among the nine Rulers, who form the Council of 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 drawn up at Independence in 1957. The original order has at times been varied by the Council of Rulers, which can vote to disqualify a candidate. Minors are automatically disqualified.
On taking office as Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the Ruler appoints a Regent for that state, usually, but not always, a close relative.
The Council of Rulers (in Malay, Majlis Raja-raja) has met regularly since 1895. The members of the council include the non-Royal Governors or Yang di-Pertua Negeri, but only royal Rulers are allowed to vote and stand for election as Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong's role is that of constitutional monarch, and as such his actual power is very limited. He is required by the Federal Constitution to act upon the advice of the Prime Minister or the Cabinet.
Nonetheless as Head of State, he has the formal responsibilities usual in the Westminster system of constitutional government. In addition, the Constitution makes him the Head of Islam in the four states ruled by appointed Governors. He is also responsible for the Agong's honours list.
In August 1957, having rejected the suggested title of Yang di-Pertuan Besar in favour of Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the Council of Rulers met to vote the first occupant of the throne. By seniority, Major-General Sultan Ibrahim ibni Almarhum Sultan Abu Bakar (Sultan of Johor), having succeeded as sultan in 1895, was the most senior, but he declined election due to old age (he was then 84).
The next in line, Sultan Abu Bakar Riayatuddin Al-Muadzam Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdullah Al-Mutassim Billah Shah (Sultan of Pahang), who succeeded in 1932, did not get sufficient votes from his brother rulers to be elected. The next most senior ruler, Tuanku Abdul Rahman ibni Almarhum Tuanku Muhammad of Negeri Sembilan, having succeeded to his state throne in 1933, was accordingly elected.
Those present at the first election were:
- Sultan Abu Bakar Riayatuddin Al-Muadzam Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdullah Al-Mutassim Billah Shah (Sultan of Pahang; 1932-1974)
- Tuanku Abdul Rahman ibni Almarhum Tuanku Muhammad (Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan; 1933-1960)
- Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah Al-Haj ibni Almarhum Sultan Alaeddin Sulaiman Shah (Sultan of Selangor; 1938-1942, 1945-1960)
- Sultan Badlishah ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah (Sultan of Kedah; 1943-1958)
- Sultan Ibrahim Petra ibni Almarhum Sultan Muhammad IV (Al-Sultan of Kelantan; 1944-1960)
- Tuanku Syed Putra ibni Almarhum Syed Hassan Jamalullail (Raja of Perlis; 1945-2000)
- Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Zainal Abidin III (Sultan of Terengganu; 1945-1979)
- Sultan Yusuf Izzudin Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Jalil Nasruddin shah (Sultan of Perak; 1948-1963)
- Tunku Ismail ibni Sultan Ibrahim (Crown Prince or Tunku Mahkota of Johor; later Sultan 1959-1981)
Order of states
After the first cycle of nine Yang di-Pertuan Agong (1957-1994), the order among the state Rulers has followed the order established by that cycle, namely:
- Negeri Sembilan
The following rulers have served as Yang di-Pertuan Agong previously:
- Tuanku Abdul Rahman ibni Almarhum Tuanku Muhammad of Negeri Sembilan,b. 1895, reigned 1957-1960, died in office 1 April 1960.
- Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah Al-Haj ibni Almarhum Sultan Alaeddin Sulaiman Shah of Selangor, b. 1898, reigned 1960, died in office 1 September 1960.
- Tuanku Syed Putra ibni Almarhum Syed Hassan Jamalullail of Perlis, b. 1920, reigned 1960-1965, died 2000
- Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Zainal Abidin III of Terengganu, b. 1907, reigned 1965-1970, died 1979
- Tuanku Al-Mutassimu Billahi Muhibbudin Sultan Abdul Halim Al-Muadzam Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Badlishah of Kedah, b. 1924, reigned 1970-1975, fl.2004
- Sultan Yahya Petra ibni Almarhum Sultan Ibrahim Petra of Kelantan, b. 1917, reigned 1975-1979, died in office 29 March 1979
- Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Mustain Billah ibni Almarhum Sultan Sir Abu Bakar Riayatuddin Al-Muadzam Shah of Pahang, b. 1930, reigned 1979-1984, fl. 2004
- Baginda Almutawakkil Alallah Sultan Iskandar Al-Haj ibni Almarhum Sultan Ismail of Johor, b. 1932, reigned 1984-1989, fl. 2004
- Sultan Azlan Muhibbudin Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Yusuff Izzudin Shah Ghafarullahu-lahu of Perak, b. 1928, reigned 1989-1994, fl. 2004
- Tuanku Jaafar ibni Almarhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman of Negeri Sembilan, b. 1922, reigned 1994-1999, fl. 2004
- Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah Al-Haj of Selangor, b. 1922, reigned 1999-2001, died in office 26 November 2001
- Malaysian Parliament's Yang diPertuan Agong (http://www.parlimen.gov.my/eng-pengenalan-agong.htm) page.
- Malaysia National Library's Yang di-Pertuan Agong (http://www.rajakita.org.my/portal_bi/rk3/rk3.htm) page.