Sultan Muhammad V's short but eventful tenure as Malaysia's 15th King

Sultan Muhammad V reportedly married former Miss Moscow Oksana Voevodina in November last year. Rumours began to swirl that the other rulers were not agreeable to her coronation as queen.
Sultan Muhammad V reportedly married former Miss Moscow Oksana Voevodina in November last year. Rumours began to swirl that the other rulers were not agreeable to her coronation as queen.PHOTO: EAST2WEST NEWS

Although Sultan Muhammad V made it through just two years of a five-year term as Malaysia's 15th King, the 49-year-old's tenure was one of the most eventful - not only did he preside over the country's first ever transition of power from the long-ruling Barisan Nasional, he also became the first King to abdicate from the federation's throne.

Born Tengku Muhammad Faris Petra ibni Tengku Ismail Petra in 1969, he was made Crown Prince of the state of Kelantan at the tender age of 10, and succeeded his father in 2010, when the latter was deemed incapacitated by illness after suffering a stroke in May the previous year.

Just four months later, the Oxford graduate dismissed his younger brother Tengku Muhammad Fakhry Petra from Kelantan's Succession Council, which is tasked with deciding on whether a new Sultan should be installed - all while his father was warded in Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital.

Despite continuing intrigue within the royal court of the north-eastern state, Sultan Muhammad V joined the Conference of Rulers in October 2010, signifying that his fellow rulers recognised him as Kelantan's head of state.

Prior to being elected King in 2016, he served as Malaysia's Deputy Supreme Ruler for five years.

But he ascended the throne as the first King not to have an official Queen, as he had divorced his first wife Kangsadal Pipitpakdee, a southern Thai royal, in 2008.

In November last year, he took a two-month leave from duty "following treatment" but reports of a marriage later that month to Miss Moscow 2015 Oksana Voevodina, 25, began to spread across social media in Malaysia, although there was no official statement on the matter.

Rumours began to swirl that the other rulers were not agreeable to her coronation as queen. But this was only the latest in a string of disagreements with Malaysia's elite since the historic change of government on May 9.

 
 

Despite victors Pakatan Harapan (PH) having publicly agreed to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as its choice for prime minister, Sultan Muhammad chose to give an audience first to Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

It was only after several press conferences reiterating PH's wish that Dr Mahathir return as premier having first served as head of government from 1981 to 2003, that the Kelantan ruler swore in the 92-year-old late on May 10.

In June, the government also faced a two-week delay in swearing in Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, as the candidate was not a Malay-Muslim. It was only after a late-night audience with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim - who is supposed to succeed Dr Mahathir according to a deal struck among PH leaders - that Sultan Muhammad acceded to the choice.

Dr Mahathir later claimed that the other state rulers had expressed to him that they disagreed with the delays in his installation as premier and in the swearing-in of Mr Thomas as the government's top lawyer.

Sultan Muhammad now returns to Kelantan to continue reigning over the state. He has, as yet, no heir.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2019, with the headline 'Short but eventful tenure as Malaysia's 15th King'. Print Edition | Subscribe