Sultan Ibrahim Ascends to the Throne As Malaysia’s New King

Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar of Johor commenced his term as head of Malaysia’s unique rotating monarchy on Wednesday amid increasing political tension due to an anti-corruption drive and speculation about a royal pardon for ex-prime minister Najib Razak, who was convicted.

Dressed in a royal blue uniform and wielding a gold-plated sabre, the 65-year-old monarch made his entrance in a classic six-door Mercedes limousine at the national palace for a significant ceremony. This event was attended by Malaysia’s nine royal families, political leaders, and prominent business figures.

At the ceremony, Sultan Ibrahim and his son, Tunku Ismail Idris, the new regent of Johor, stood out in their military-style uniforms, contrasting with other attendees who wore traditional Malay royal court attire, including the tanjak headdress, the sampin, and the kris, a symbolic dagger.

The new king officially began his reign after being sworn in, surrounded by the leaders of the country’s other royal families. He will be known as Sultan Ibrahim during his tenure, as announced by the national palace.

“I, with all my ability, will at all times preserve Islam, and stand firmly for fair administration and peace in the country”, he proclaimed as cannons boomed outside the palace, signifying the commencement of his rule.

His rise to the throne was determined by the Conference of Rulers, a council of Malaysian state rulers and governors, which voted in his favour in October of the previous year.

He succeeds Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, whose term ended amid intense speculation, later retracted by local media, about possibly pardoning former prime minister Najib, who is serving a 12-year sentence for corruption related to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad state fund scandal.

As Sultan Ibrahim ascends to the throne, Malaysians anticipate stronger leadership from the monarchy to bridge political divides. These divisions led to Anwar Ibrahim becoming prime minister 14 months ago but have also challenged his government with attempts to overthrow it.

A new political conflict is emerging following an anti-corruption drive that targeted Anwar’s opponents, including the family of Mahathir Mohamad, a former ally and now a fierce adversary of the current prime minister.

Before his ascension, Sultan Ibrahim cautioned Malaysia’s politicians against engaging in the intrigues that led to two government changes under his predecessor, emphasizing his allegiance to the people over politicians in a statement to Singapore’s The Straits Times.

Sultan Ibrahim is known not just for his direct approach but also for his lavish lifestyle. He is a helicopter pilot trained with American special forces.

He gained attention in 2015 for acquiring a custom Mack sleeper truck with luxurious features, including gold-threaded seats. His collection of luxury vehicles includes a Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, a Bugatti Veyron in white and neon blue, and a full-size replica of The Flintstones’ foot-powered car.