Highlights of the Al-Sultan Abdullah's reign

AL-SULTAN Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah's five-year reign as the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong was marked by numerous events, including back-to-back political crises and the Covid-19 pandemic.

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However, it also brought to fore his wisdom in helping the country overcome a hung parliament, and showcased his love for the people, evidenced by his willingness on many occasions to break royal protocol to meet his subjects.

The New Straits Times takes a look back at the highlights of Al-Sultan Abdullah reign.


Al-Sultan Abdullah holds the distinction of being the only King to govern the country with four different prime ministers.

He ascended the throne in January 2019, when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was into his second stint as prime minister.

The King, using his wisdom, played a key role in helping Malaysia weather a political storm following the Sheraton Move in Feb 2020. Dr Mahathir, having quit citing a loss of confidence in his leadership, left a void in the prime ministers' role.

Al-Sultan Abdullah then individually met all members of parliament and party leaders to assess their support for a new prime minister, which ended with Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin becoming the PM with the new Perikatan Nasional government.

This was followed by another leadership change in August 2021 when after more political turmoil, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob was appointed as the country's ninth prime minister. Yet again, Al-Sultan Abdullah met with all MPs to gauge which candidate commanded their support.

In 2022, Malaysia experienced its first hung parliament when no clear winner emerged from the 15th General Election. Al-Sultan Abdullah then summoned Muhyiddin and PH chairman Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and proposed the formation of a unity government between the two coalitions.

Muhyiddin had rejected the proposal. After Al-Sultan Abdullah met with other coalition leaders to gauge their support, Anwar was eventually sworn in as the 10th prime minister.


As Malaysia grappled with the challenges and uncertainty posed by the global pandemic, Al-Sultan Abdullah played a sterling role in providing a calming influence on the people.

His frequent messages on calling for adherence to the standard operating procedures and reassurances that Malaysia would weather the pandemic, resonated among the people and eventually saw the country emerging from the crisis.

However, he and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, were also not spared from the virus, with both contracting Covid-19 in April 2022, and even quarantined themselves in Istana Negara during the period.


Al-Sultan Abdullah's reign was particularly marked by his willingness to forgo royal protocol and mingle with the people.

On Christmas Day 2021, as floods ravaged Taman Sri Muda, Shah Alam, the King personally drove to meet flood victims at the relief centres, handing over aid and urging them not to give up.

Throughout his reign, social media saw numerous accounts of Al-Sultan Abdullah halting the royal convoy to help accident victims, casually buying food at roadside stalls and on one occasion, even entering a fast food restaurant to enjoy lunch.

Al-Sultan Abdullah and his family also embarked on the 'Kembara Kenali Borneo' tour from Sept 3 to 13, 2023, which saw the royal family traveling from Tawau, Sabah to Telok Melano, Sarawak.

The King described the trip as an unforgettable event and was touched by the people's willingness to wait for hours by the roadside for the opportunity to shake their hands and even share their food with him.

"I was touched when a youngster called me 'Pak Cik Agong'. Some called me 'Abang Agong'. There were also those who called me 'Gong Gong Gong'... it was truly pleasing for me," he quipped.

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