Malaysia: New king Sultan Ibrahim warns MPs to ‘tread carefully’, praises PM Anwar for ‘good governance’

Malaysia: New king Sultan Ibrahim warns MPs to ‘tread carefully’, praises PM Anwar for ‘good governance’
Malaysia: New king Sultan Ibrahim warns MPs to ‘tread carefully’, praises PM Anwar for ‘good governance’

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s administration has received the royal backing of Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar, the new king of Malaysia, who told parliament that he would not entertain any attempts at shaking up the government and cautioned the country’s 222 lawmakers to “tread carefully” during his reign.

His comment is an allusion to Malaysia’s recent period of political instability when three prime ministers had to leave office prematurely Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar, however, assures MPs that he will follow established policies and regulations during his reign

His comments come after attempts at undermining Anwar’s position continued into the eleventh hour of the reign of Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, which ended on January 30. During Sultan Abdullah’s reign, three prime ministers were forced to leave office at the hands of parliamentarians vying for power.

Sultan Ibrahim, the 17th king in Malaysia’s unique rotational monarchy system, spoke on Monday at the opening of this year’s parliamentary session, his first address to lawmakers after ascending the throne on January 31 for his five-year term.

“I congratulate the Prime Minister and members of the administration of the Government for their good governance in managing the country,” Sultan Ibrahim said.

In his speech, the king said that the success or failure of the country is not solely on the shoulders of the prime minister but all members of parliament who have been entrusted by the Malaysian people to represent them in parliament.

“I would also like to emphasise that I will not entertain any request from any party that may compromise the country’s political stability,” the monarch added.

“Anyone seeking to play politics should wait for the next general elections.”

Anwar leads a loose coalition that includes the Malay nationalist Umno party, which had demonised Anwar for decades, and the Democratic Action Party (DAP), which is led by ethnic Chinese and is seen by the Malay electorate as a threat to their political dominance.

Those parties, alongside Anwar’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and parties from Borneo, set aside their differences after the 2022 elections to block the formation of a mono-ethnic, Islamist government led by the opposition Perikatan Nasional coalition.

Sultan Ibrahim, who hails from the industrialised shipping hub state of Johor, told federal lawmakers that his speech to them was more subtle than those he gave previously at his state assembly.

“I am giving a chance so that no one is offended, but in time, please tread carefully,” the king said with a smile.

In his state assembly speeches, the monarch threatened to dissolve the assembly in light of a rumoured attempt by the opposition to oust the state government in 2021. He had also complained about the conditions of the road in the state that damaged the wheels of his car, among other things.

In his inaugural speech at the parliament, he urged parties on both sides of the aisle to stand united and work together to develop the country for the sake of the country’s 33 million citizens, in line with a comment he made to Singapore’s The Straits Times newspaper in a December interview in which he said that he is on the side of the people, not the MPs.

Across Malaysia, his ascension has been closely watched following his other comments from that interview including his refusal to be a “puppet king” and his wish to have the country’s anti-corruption commission as well as its national oil company Petronas report to the monarch instead of the executive, a request critics say goes beyond his constitutional role as head of state.

He also told parliament that he wants the government to bring back the scrapped high-speed rail project connecting Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, with the tracks running through Forest City, a joint venture project between Country Garden Holding Ltd and a unit of a Johor state government company, the latter of which the king owns a major stake. The project has not grown as expected due to major setbacks.
While his son Johor Crown Prince Ismail said that Sultan Ibrahim would be “hands-on” and would give Anwar “a tough time” at governing, the king offered conciliatory words to parliament that his reign would hew closely to that of his well-regarded predecessor.

“My reign as king will emulate that of the previous king in accordance with the Federal Constitution and the established policies and regulations that are in place,” he affirmed.


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