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Wednesday, 21 November, 2001, 12:28 GMT
Ruler with 'heart of the people'
King was taken from hospital to the royal palace
Hundreds of mourners gathered at the king's hospital
Blunt and outspoken, Malaysia's king, Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah was also known as a man of the people.

The sultan, who died on Wednesday aged 75, had a reputation of being able to mix easily with his subjects.

Crowned as Malaysia's 11th king in September 1999 he was known as a champion of rights for the poor, an advocate of the arts and hospital building projects and a man of simple hobbies.

Although bearing the Malay royal title Yang di-Pertuan Agong - literally He Who is Made Lord - ordinary folk preferred to call him "the ruler with heart of the people".

Elite education

Sultan Salahuddin has, however, always enjoyed the benefits of a royal upbringing.

Queen Tuanku Siti Aishah
Queen Tuanku Siti Aishah married while still a student
His early education was at the elite Kuala Kangsar Malay College. When the Japanese invaded in 1941 he remained in the family palace in Klang outside the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

After World War II, he travelled to the UK to study public administration and English at the University of London.

By then he had become a supporter of Malaysian independence from British rule. Back home he would travel the country, cycling between villages to meet rural communities.

Royal life

In 1960, he became Sultan of the state of Selangor, succeeding his father Hisamuddin, who died in office while serving as Malaysia's second king.

Flag lowere to half mast
Government has called a week of mourning
Malaysia's unique constitution rotates the monarchy through the royal families of nine states, each period of rule lasting five years.

Sultan Salahuddin's turn came in 1999. By then he had established his reputation, clashing with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on several occasions but managing to remain on good terms.

He controversially married his fourth wife, Siti Aishash, in 1990. She was a 19-year-old banking student at the time and viewed as a commoner among royal circles. It was not until she was formally crowned as sultana in 1998 that she was fully accepted.

The king also leaves 10 sons and four daughters from his four marriages.

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The BBC's Simon Ingram
"The Prime Minister declared a 7 day period of mourning"
See also:

27 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Malaysia
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