Yang di-Pertuan Agong is not "king".

By Iqbal Abdullah in

This was an email I sent to The Star on referring to the Malaysian Head of State using the appropriate proper noun. It was not published.

I refer to your news article on 16th Nov 2016 with the title King and Queen attend parade of thanks for 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong

Every time I read in your paper news about our Yang di-Pertuan Agong and your paper refers to him as King and his consort as Queen, I cringe.

We Malaysians do not have a king. Spain has a king. Sweden has a king. Monaco has a king. Japan has an emperor, while we Malaysian have our Agong.

It is a unique position even within this small world of ours. A king generally implies a hereditary line of monarchs with power passed down between families. Our Yang di-Pertuan Agong is elected and even has a deputy which are not from the same family unlike kings which have crown princes which are nearly the time sons of the same family.

Our passports also refers to the Agong as "His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia".

The Agong is not a hereditary role, is a proper noun and referring to a specific and important role in our country. There is no equivalent english translation for our Agong, as the English language came from a region and time where a ruler is a king and have absolute powers.

As an alternative, you can refer to our Agong by addressing him by "His Majesty" and his consort as "Her Majesty", or even the "Supreme Commander of the Malaysian Armed Forces" if you'd like.

As one of the few English papers with wide circulation in the country, we can assume that your good paper will be read by many foreigners visiting our shores. It would be best to give the proper introduction to them concerning our Yang di-Pertuan Agong, by correctly referring to our unique elected Head of State lest they'l have the impression that the Federation of Malaysia have "kings".