Pahang State’s New Sultan Tipped to be Next Malaysian King

Pahang state Crown Prince Tengku Abdullah arrives for a private event Friday at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Associated Press
Pahang state Crown Prince Tengku Abdullah arrives for a private event Friday at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Associated Press

KUALA LUMPUR — The central Malaysian state of Pahang’s soon-to-be new sultan is tipped to become the country’s next king under a unique rotating monarchy system.

The Conference of Rulers has said it will pick a new king among nine hereditary state rulers on Jan. 24 following the sudden abdication of Sultan Muhammad V after just two years on the throne. No reasons were given for the Jan. 6 abdication, the first in the nation’s history, which came after the 49-year-old Sultan Muhammad V reportedly married a former Russian beauty queen.

Pahang’s 88-year-old Sultan Ahmad Shah is next in line to be king, but he is gravely ill.

Tengku Abdullah, currently the regent of Pahang, will succeed Sultan Ahmad Shah on Tuesday, the Pahang palace announced Saturday.

Pahang royal council member Tengku Abdul Rahman was reported saying that royal family members and the council have agreed that his brother Tengku Abdullah, 59, will ascend the state throne because Sultan Ahmad Shah “can no longer shoulder the duties and responsibilities as ruler.”

Tengku Abdullah, who has been state regent for the past two years due to the sultan’s ill health, is a FIFA council member and president of the Asian Hockey Federation.

If Sultan Ahmad Shah doesn’t abdicate, he is unlikely to be elected king due to his sickness and the position could then go to the wealthy sultan of southern Johor state. The succession issue will not be confirmed before Jan. 24. At least five out of the nine state rulers must support Tengku Abdullah, local media said.

The nine ethnic Malay state rulers take turns serving as Malaysia’s king for five-year terms under the world’s only such system, which has been maintained since the country’s independence from Britain in 1957.

The monarch’s role is largely ceremonial, since administrative power is vested in the prime minister and parliament. But the monarch is highly regarded as the supreme upholder of Malay tradition, particularly among the ethnic Malay Muslim majority.