KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Tossed into political turmoil after Mahathir Mohamad resigned as prime minister on Monday, Malaysia is now waiting for its king to decide who could emerge as the new leader or whether a new election will be held.
The known candidates are Mahathir, now interim prime minister, and old rival Anwar Ibrahim. Over two days, the king is to interview all 222 elected members of parliament to seek their views on who might get majority support.
Malaysia’s monarchs are selected for five-year terms by rotation from among the hereditary royal families of nine states. Known as Agong, they normally stay out of day-to-day politics and play a ceremonial role, although their consent is needed to name a prime minister.
Here are some facts about the king, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah:
** The king, 60, comes from the royal family of Pahang, a state in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
** The king is widely popular and video clips have gone viral showing him attending the scene of traffic accidents to show sympathy for victims. On the first day of his consultations with parliamentarians, the king came to the palace gates to hand out fast food to journalists covering the political turmoil.
** He was elected as the 16th king, following Sultan Muhammad V, the head of state of Kelantan, who abdicated suddenly in January last year.
** His full name is Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah.
** After studies in his home state, he attended Britain’s Sandhurst military academy and Oxford University. The king won a gold medal in polo in the Southeast Asia Games, and his interests also include football and hockey.
** He married a princess of the Johor royal family in 1986 and they have four sons and five daughters.
** The bespectacled, silver-haired king sports a slim mustache and beard. He keeps trim and is known as a sharp dresser for formal occasions, but sometimes dresses down in public.
Editing by Matthew Tostevin and Peter Graff