Thu, Nov 30, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Coronation keeping future Malaysian king out of saddle

AP , KUALA LUMPUR

The future king of Malaysia won't compete in the equestrian competition at the Asian Games in Doha, focusing instead on his coronation as Malaysia' constitutional monarch.

Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, 44, has withdrawn from equestrian team endurance event because it clashes with his coronation as the next king Dec. 13.

"At this stage, he said he has to pull out," Malaysia's National Sports Council spokesman Tony Mariadass said yesterday.

"The sultan informed the Olympic Council last week ... As of now, he's out, but he may still try to make it," Mariadass said.

The equestrian team endurance event begins on Dec. 14.

Mizan, from northeastern Terengganu state, was elected the country's next constitutional monarch under a unique system which sees traditional state rulers take turns to be the king for five years.

The king's role is largely ceremonial, and the power to govern resides with Parliament and the prime minister. But for Malay Muslims, who comprise some 60 percent of Malaysia's 26 million people, the king is the supreme upholder of Malay tradition and the symbolic head of Islam.

Malaysia has a target of nine gold medals in Doha.

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