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Malaysia swears in billionaire as new king in world’s only rotational monarchy

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A billionaire has been sworn in as the new king of Malaysia under the Southeast Asian country’s unique monarchy system, where several rulers take turns on the throne.

What happened: Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar, 65, was sworn in at a ceremony attended by other royal families, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and cabinet members on Wednesday. He was elected to the throne in October 2023, but his coronation will take place at a later date.

Sultan Ibrahim succeeded Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang state. Sultan Nazrin Shah of Perak, who was reelected as deputy king, is set to be next in line to the throne.

What the king does: The king largely plays a ceremonial role and serves as a custodian of Islam, protector of Malaysian customs and the military's commander-in-chief. He also has powers to appoint a new prime minister, a position typically filled through an election, and pardon convicted people through the royal pardon, such as what happened in 2018 when former king Sultan Muhammad V pardoned Anwar.

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About the new king: Sultan Ibrahim, who is of Malay-British descent, is one of the richest men in Malaysia. His net worth is estimated to be at least $5.7 billion, which comes from a diverse range of investments from real estate to telecommunication and power plants.

Sultan Ibrahim is known for riding his motorcycle across the country to meet people and give charity to the less fortunate.

Malaysia's monarchy system: Believed to be the only country in the world that practices a rotational monarchy, a king in Malaysia is chosen from one of the nine ethnic Malay state rulers to serve the position for five years. Some of those nine Malay royalties have roots that can be traced back to centuries-old Malay kingdoms.

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