Malaysia crowns Pahang state's Sultan Abdullah as 16th king

Malaysian new King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, second from left, inspects an honor guard during his welcome ceremony at Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Sultan Abdullah, ruler of central Pahang state, was named Malaysia's new king, replacing Sultan Muhammad V who abdicated unexpectedly after just two years on the throne. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Malaysia's King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah salutes next to Queen Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, second from left, and Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, right, during his welcome ceremony at Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Sultan Abdullah, ruler of central Pahang state, was named Malaysia's new king, replacing Sultan Muhammad V who abdicated unexpectedly after just two years on the throne. (AP Photo/Yam G-Jun)
Malaysian new King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, second from left, inspects an honor guard during his welcome ceremony at Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Sultan Abdullah, Ruler of central Pahang state, was named Malaysia's new king, replacing Sultan Muhammad V who abdicated unexpectedly after just two years on the throne. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Kuala Lumpur Tower and flags of Malaysian states are seen during a welcome ceremony for King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah at Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Sultan Abdullah, ruler of central Pahang state, was named Malaysia's new king, replacing Sultan Muhammad V who abdicated unexpectedly after just two years on the throne. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Malaysia's King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah salutes next to Queen Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah and Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, center, during his welcome ceremony at Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Sultan Abdullah, ruler of central Pahang state, was named Malaysia's new king, replacing Sultan Muhammad V who abdicated unexpectedly after just two years on the throne. (AP Photo/Yam G-Jun)
Malaysia's King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah salutes next to Queen Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah, right, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, second from left, and his wife Siti Hasmah during the king's welcome ceremony at Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Sultan Abdullah, ruler of central Pahang state, was named Malaysia's new king, replacing Sultan Muhammad V who abdicated unexpectedly after just two years on the throne. (AP Photo/Yam G-Jun)
Malaysian new King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, center, inspects an honor guard during his welcome ceremony at Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Sultan Abdullah, ruler of central Pahang state, was named Malaysia's new king, replacing Sultan Muhammad V who abdicated unexpectedly after just two years on the throne. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Malaysian Royal Guard salute during a welcome ceremony for King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah at Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Sultan Abdullah, ruler of central Pahang state, was named Malaysia's new king, replacing Sultan Muhammad V who abdicated unexpectedly after just two years on the throne. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Malaysia's King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, right, prays next to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad during his welcome ceremony at Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Sultan Abdullah, ruler of central Pahang state, was named Malaysia's new king, replacing Sultan Muhammad V who abdicated unexpectedly after just two years on the throne. (AP Photo/Yam G-Jun)
Malaysian Royal Guard prays during a welcome ceremony for King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah at Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Sultan Abdullah, ruler of central Pahang state, was named Malaysia's new king, replacing Sultan Muhammad V who abdicated unexpectedly after just two years on the throne. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Malaysian King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, right, stands before inspecting an honor guard during his welcome ceremony at Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Sultan Abdullah, ruler of central Pahang state, was named Malaysia's new king, replacing Sultan Muhammad V who abdicated unexpectedly after just two years on the throne. Second from left is Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah of central Pahang state was crowned Thursday as Malaysia's 16th king under a unique rotating monarchy system, nearly a month after the sudden abdication of Sultan Muhammad V.

Garbed in aqua blue regalia, Sultan Abdullah, 59, took his oath of office in a nationally televised ceremony at a cavernous hall in the national palace. Dozens of dignitaries, led by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his Cabinet ministers, attended the event.

Nine ethnic Malay state rulers take turns as the country's king for five-year terms under the world's only such system, which has been maintained since Malaysia's independence from Britain in 1957.

Sultan Muhammad V, 49, of northeast Kelantan state, abruptly resigned Jan. 6 as Malaysia's king after just two years on the throne in the first abdication in the nation's history. No reason was given, but it came after he reportedly married a 25-year-old former Russian beauty queen in November.

British-educated Sultan Abdullah, a prominent figure in sport bodies, was sworn in Thursday after inspecting a military honor guard and receiving a 21-gun salute at Parliament. He is a council member of the world football governing body FIFA, president of the Asian Hockey Federation, and an executive board member of the International Hockey Federation.

Known as the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, or "He Who is Made Lord," Malaysia's king plays a largely ceremonial role, since administrative power is vested in the prime minister and Parliament. But the monarch is highly regarded as the guardian of Islam and Malay tradition, particularly among the ethnic Malay Muslim majority.

The king is the nominal head of the government and armed forces. All laws, Cabinet appointments and the dissolution of Parliament for general elections require his assent. The king also issues pardons for criminals. Malaysia's Constitution allocates some 5 million ringgit ($1.21 million) a year for the expenses of the king and his household, including palace maintenance, although the sum can be increased with Cabinet approval.

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