Monday, September 13, 2010

New sultan sparks royal crisis

KUALA LUMPUR - A ROYAL crisis flared in Malaysia on Monday as the ailing sultan of a northeastern state was replaced by his eldest son after a protracted power struggle.

The chief minister of Kelantan state, Nik Aziz Nik Mat, announced that 40-year-old regent Tengku Muhammad Faris Petra (pix) was the new royal ruler of the state, the official Bernama news agency reported.

'It is hereby proclaimed, in accordance with... the Kelantan state constitution, that the Regent of Kelantan shall now ascend to the throne to succeed his father,' Mr Nik Aziz said.

Tengku Muhammad Faris deposed his father through an amendment to the Kelantan constitution which states that the sultan shall cease to be the ruler if he is incapacitated for a period of more than one year.

Lawyers for the former sultan, 60-year-old Tuanku Ismail Petra Sultan Yahya Petra who suffered a stroke in May 2009 and is still recuperating at his palace, said they would challenge the ouster. 'Needless to say, any such amendment, and installation... will be challenged as to its validity by His Royal Highness the Sultan (Tuanku Ismail Petra) in court,' lawyer Rashid Zulkifli said in a statement.

Malaysia has nine sultans who are the royal rulers and guardians of Islam in their respective states. Under a unique rotating monarchy, the nine each take turns to rule for five years as the nation's king. -- AFP

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