Malaysia's third largest state yesterday installed a new ruler with Sultan Abdullah Ibni Sultan Ahmad Shah ascending the throne, becoming Pahang's sixth monarch.
The 59-year-old took his oath after the proclamation of his appointment was read out by his younger brother, Tengku Muda Pahang Tengku Abdul Rahman, in a ceremony just before noon at Istana Abu Bakar, the palace located in the royal town of Pekan.
The installation of Sultan Abdullah puts him in line to become Malaysia's next king under the rotation system practised by the nine Malay royal houses in the country.
This follows the sudden abdication of Kelantan's Sultan Muhammad V as king on Jan 6 after just two years - three years short of a five-year reign - amid widespread speculation about his recent marriage to a Russian woman in Moscow.
In a statement during the ceremony, Sultan Abdullah thanked his wife and spoke about his father, Sultan Ahmad Shah, who stepped down as ruler due to declining health. The 88-year-old reigned for almost 45 years.
"I hope the people will pray for my father," the new sultan said in a trembling voice, while visibly trying to hold back tears.
Sultan Abdullah, who is the fourth of eight siblings but the eldest son of the former ruler, was born on July 30, 1959.
The dynasty of the Pahang sultanate can be traced back to 1882, and the last time an installation ceremony took place in Pekan was in 1974, when Sultan Ahmad Shah ascended the throne.
Among those who attended the royal ceremony yesterday were Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah, Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali, former defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein, who is now an MP for Sembrong in Johor, and former premier Najib Razak, who is the MP for Pekan.
Najib is among the Orang Besar Berempat (Four Major Chiefs) in Pahang. Based on the traditions of the Pahang sultanate, the installation of a ruler would be deemed incomplete without the Orang Besar Berempat.
Pahang residents welcomed the proclamation of their new sultan.
"I am very proud and happy that His Royal Highness was proclaimed the new sultan. I am sure he will do a good job in looking after our well-being. Whether or not he ends up as king, we are with him," said banana fritter seller Aisyah Mat Idris, 54.
Malaysia's Conference of Rulers - comprising the nine state sultans and four governors in states with no royal families (Penang, Melaka, Sabah, Sarawak) - will hold a special meeting on Jan 24 to elect the next king. Only royalty will be allowed to vote for a new king in the Council of Rulers.
Under the unique rotation system practised by the nine royal houses in Malaysia, Pahang is next in line for its ruler to be enthroned as the next king, followed by Johor, and then Perak.
The Keeper of the Ruler's Seal at the national palace Syed Danial Syed Ahmad has said that the next king will take his oath on Jan 31.