Malaysia’s royals prepared Monday to pick a new king to replace Sultan Muhammad V, who abdicated in a historic first after reportedly marrying a Russian former beauty queen, holding a special gathering at the national palace. The king stepped aside Sunday following intense speculation about his future after reports surfaced in recent weeks that he had taken medical leave, and then wed the former Miss Moscow. As the country reacted with shock to the news, Malaysia’s Islamic royal families set about the task of electing a new king to replace Muhammad V, 49, who gave up the throne just two years into his term. Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy, with a unique arrangement where the throne changes hands every five years between rulers of the country’s nine states headed by centuries-old Islamic royalty. Published in Daily Times, January 8th 2019.