The new Sultan of Pahang is in line to be elected Malaysia’s king, replacing Sultan Muhammad V
- Crown Prince Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, taking over from his father, will be the state’s new ruler from January 15
- The move puts him in line for the throne, a position that will be decided on January 24 by the Conference of Rulers
In a new twist in Malaysia’s journey to crown a new Agong, or king, Pahang state’s Sultan Ahmad Shah has stepped down to make way for his son, Crown Prince Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, who will be the state’s new sultan from January 15.
“Pahang is facing an unusual challenge. My father is undergoing intensive medical treatment,” said the crown prince’s brother, Tengku Abdul Rahman Sultan Ahmad Shah, at a special press conference at the palace, according to local media reports.
“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.
“Realising this, my family and I proposed that our brother, the Regent of Pahang, be appointed his successor and the sixth Sultan of Pahang.”
The Sultan-to-be, 59, is a popular figure in the sports scene and is currently president of the Asian Hockey Federation and a council member of soccer’s world governing body, Fifa.
The move puts the crown prince next in line to be Malaysia’s head of state. Under the country’s unique system of constitutional monarchy, its nine sultans, each overseeing a different state, take turns to be Agong for five-year stints.
The rotational system is in place to ensure the royal family of each state has a turn at the crown.
The Pahang palace announced the news today after several days of meetings that were hotly speculated about by Malaysians.
After the abdication of Sultan Muhammad V last week, Malaysia was left without a head of state, known as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, or Agong.
The Conference of Rulers, made up of nine hereditary royals and four state governors, has announced that a new Agong would be declared on January 24 and formally sworn in on January 31.
Johor’s Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar and Sultan Nazrin Shah of Perak – who is currently the deputy king and is carrying out the functions of the king until a new one is elected – are the next two names in the rotational system.
Although the functions of the king are largely ceremonial, he also serves to safeguard Islam in Muslim-majority Malaysia, and must assent to the appointment of individuals for various senior government roles including that of prime minister.
There are only three instances in which the ruler who is next on the list can be denied the position: if the royal is a minor; if the Conference of Rulers by secret ballot resolves that he is unsuitable by reason of infirmity of mind or body or any other cause to exercise the functions of king; or if he declines to take the position. The ballot would then move to the next ruler on the list.
In 2016, the Sultan of Johor claimed he had been offered the role of king, bypassing both Kelantan – Muhammad V’s home state – and Pahang, saying he had rejected the offer out of respect for the rotational system.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse