In a post on his official Facebook page, yesterday, 14 October, Sultan Ibrahim Ismail of Johor claims that he rejected the offer to become the next Agong out of respect for the rotation tradition
The post was later picked up by several news sites, including SAYS
However, in doing so, all the news sites, not excluding this SAYS writer, overlooked the most important thing here: Who offered Sultan Ibrahim Ismail of Johor to take up the next Yang Di-Pertuan Agong post?
None of the reports, from Malaysiakini to The Star among others, actually specify it.
The Conference of Rulers has always followed the tradition and convention in electing the next Agong. Under the tradition of rotation system, set by the Conference of Rulers, when the Sultan of Kelantan, Sultan Muhammad V, was already the next in line, how did the offer to be the next Agong to Sultan of Johor come about?
The rotation system has been enforced since 31 August 1957
Under the rotation system, the Keeper of the Rulers' Seal, currently Syed Danial Syed Ahmad, asks the next in line on the list whether or not he is prepared to be chosen as Yang di-Pertuan Agong. This is done prior to the selection process..
The Rulers then cast their votes, which is done through secret ballot.
After which, if the candidate receives at least five votes, he becomes the next Agong.
According to Constitutional expert Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi, who was speaking to The Star Online, when the first rotation list was drawn up after 1957, the first name in the order was decided based upon the seniority of tenure as Sultan.
"But at that time, the most eligible and senior candidates (the then Sultans of Johor and Pahang) turned down the offer to become the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. So, the position was offered to the next most senior and eligible candidate (which was Abdul Rahman of Negeri Sembilan)," he was quoted as saying by The Star Online.
As such, Tuanku Abdul Rahman's appointment as the Agong was reflective of the natural progression of the rotation system, the Prof Emeritus told The Star Online.
If such has been the tradition, then the Sultan of Kelantan — who being the next in line based on the rotation system — had he declined the offer, the same offer would actually have gone to the Sultan of Pahang, who is next in line.
Then what is the basis of the claim that the Sultan of Johor was offered the post?
When he was not even the next in line for the post, how can he decline?
Is all of this just hearsay?
However, if it is just hearsay, why then did the Sultan of Johor issue such a statement?
And if there was indeed such an offer made to the Johor Sultan, does this mean the Conference of Rulers wanted to break the tradition of rotation system?
That's a highly unlikely thing for the rulers to do, but if they did, does it mean the Sultan of Kelantan was not their first choice, despite him being the next in line? But why?
Well, it turns out, the Facebook page of Johor Southern Tigers, where Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Ibrahim usually issues his statements, may possibly be the source of such a claim
Earlier on 14 October, the Facebook page of Johor Southern Tigers posted claiming that the Johor Sultan had "respectfully declined the offer" to be the next Agong.
The said post, since deleted from the Johor Southern Tigers' page, read: "This was all done as the sultan of Johor insists on giving his utmost focus on the sovereignty of Johor and the welfare of the people of Johor".
Additionally, in the comment section, the page had claimed, in a reply to another comment, that all the other rulers had wanted the Johor Sultan to be next Agong.
"But the Johor Sultan has declined the offer to concentrate fully on Johor," read the comment, as reported by Malaysiakini.