KUALA LUMPUR • The Regent of Pahang will ascend the state throne on Tuesday, the state palace announced yesterday, paving the way for him to become Malaysia's next king.
Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, 59, will be sworn in as the sixth Pahang Sultan at the Sultan Abu Bakar palace in Pekan, Pahang, said his younger brother and royal council member, Tengku Abdul Rahman Sultan Ahmad Shah yesterday.
The announcement came a day after the Pahang royal council met to discuss the succession, given the poor health of the incumbent ruler, 88-year-old Sultan Ahmad Shah.
The Sultan had been expected to abdicate in favour of his son Tengku Abdullah, who has been Regent for the past two years. This would put Tengku Abdullah in line to be the next Malaysian constitutional monarch under the rotation system practised by the country's nine royal houses.
An amendment was made to the Pahang Constitution to empower the royal council to endorse the Regent's ascension to the throne, The Star quoted the Regent's brother as saying at a special press conference yesterday.
"Pahang is facing an unusual challenge. My father is undergoing intensive medical treatment," Tengku Abdul Rahman said at the press conference in Pekan.
"It is with sadness that my family and I accept the reality that my father can no longer shoulder the responsibility of being a ruler.
"My family and I proposed that our brother, the Regent of Pahang, be appointed his successor and the sixth Sultan of Pahang."
He said Tengku Abdullah had agreed to accept the responsibility.
The succession issue arose last Sunday, when Kelantan's Sultan Muhammad V abdicated as King after serving just two years - three years short of the five-year reign - purportedly over his recent marriage to a Russian woman.
After the Pahang royal council meeting on Friday, chants of Daulat Tuanku (Long live the King) were heard three times from the Kuala Lumpur hotel room where the meeting took place, The Star reported yesterday.
When journalists asked Tengku Abdullah then if he would ascend the throne, he reportedly said: "Oh no, you must take one thing at a time." However, when a reporter congratulated the Regent, he politely said: "Thank you."
Tengku Abdullah and those present at the meeting then posed for a photo. His wife, Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah Sultan Iskandar, 58, looked emotional and wiped her eyes a few times, reported The Star.
Tunku Azizah, who is a sister of the current Sultan of Johor, also hugged her in-laws who are part of the royal council.
If Pahang declines to take up the throne, the next in line will be the Johor ruler, followed by Perak.
Malaysia's Conference of Rulers - comprising the nine state sultans and four governors of states with no royal families (Penang, Melaka, Sabah, Sarawak) - will hold a special meeting on Jan 24 to elect the next king.
The Keeper of the Ruler's Seal at the national palace, Syed Danial Syed Ahmad, has said that the next Malaysian king will take his oath of office on Jan 31.