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Wednesday, 21 November, 2001, 12:28 GMT
King of Malaysia dies
King's coffin leaves the Gleneagles private hospital in Kuala Lumpur
Bearers carried the king's coffin draped in royal yellow
The King of Malaysia has died at the age of 75, the government announced on Wednesday.

Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah had been on breathing and kidney support machines after his condition deteriorated following the implant of a heart pacemaker two months ago.

Hundreds of mourners gathered outside the Gleneagles hospital in Kuala Lumpur to pay their last respects.

Queen Tuanku Siti Aishah
Queen Tuanku Siti Aishah was at the hospital on Wednesday
The king will be buried on Thursday after briefly lying in state at the Istana Negara national palace.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad expressed his sadness in a televised address. Afterwards he told reporters: "We have been good friends... I will miss him a lot."

Sultan Salahuddin is one of nine traditional rulers who take it in turns in the figurehead role.

He leaves 10 sons and four daughters from four marriages - he wedded his fourth wife Queen Siti Aishah in 1990 when she was 19.

The king died at around 1125 local time (0325 GMT) Gleneagles hospital, where he was admitted on Sunday.

He was crowned Malaysia's 11th king on 23 September 1999. In Malaysia, the position of king - known in Malay as Yang di-Pertuan Agong or He Who is Made Lord - is rotated among the royal families of nine states every five years.

'Heart of the people'

Sultan Salahuddin, who ruled the central state of Selangor, is likely to be succeeded by Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin of Terengganu, 39, who was named Acting Yang di-Pertuan Agong during Sultan Salahuddin's illness.

The king in Malaysia is head of state, as well as the nominal head of the military and all three branches of government, signing bills and appointing ministers, judges and ambassadors.

Sultan Salahuddin was said to be particularly close to his subjects, and was nicknamed "the ruler with the heart of the people".

Before ascending the throne in Selangor, he studied in Britain and then worked in Malaysia as a school inspector and, briefly, in the army.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Simon Ingram
"The Prime Minister declared a 7 day period of mourning"

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Sultan Salahuddin
Your memories of the king
See also:

21 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
Ruler with 'heart of the people'
27 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Malaysia
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