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Sultans lose privileges

Kuala Lumpur (Reuter) - Malaysia yesterday stripped more privileges from its nine hereditary rulers, who have opposed efforts to remove their immunity from the law.

The Trade and Industry Minister, Rafidah Aziz, said the nine sultans would no longer be given shares in government companies that go public, or be issued business licences.

The government and sultans are arguing over plans to remove the rulers' legal immunity, endorsed by parliament this week. Mahathir Mohamad, the Prime Minister, proposed this after a school hockey coach alleged he had been assaulted by Sultan Mahmood Iskandar of Johor, a former king convicted of manslaughter in 1978 but pardoned by his father.