The Sultan of Kelantan is challenging his eldest son's ascension to the throne, his lawyers said Monday, in a bitter succession dispute that has embarrassed one of the country's most prominent royal households.
Last week, Tengku Muhammad Faris Petra took over the throne of northern Kelantan state from his bedridden father, Tuanku Ismail Petra Yahya Petra.
This followed a decision by the state's powerful Council of Succession, which decides who ascends to the throne. Lawyers representing Ismail have filed petitions to the country's highest court to declare Faris' installation unconstitutional. In the latest petition, submitted Monday, they questioned the process in which the Council of Succession appointed Faris.
"Tuanku Ismail Petra is still the Sultan and we are seeking for the intervention of the Federal Court," said Param Cumaraswamy, one of the lawyers. The court will meet Oct. 23 to decide whether it has jurisdiction to hear the petitions, he said.
The feud in the Kelantan royal household has exposed previously little-known rivalries and given a rare glimpse into behind-the-scenes court intrigue. Faris has been embroiled in a public dispute with his brother, Tengku Muhammad Fakhry, since Ismail fell ill with heart problems more than a year ago. Last September, Faris removed Fakhry from the Council of Succession.
Nine of Malaysia's 13 states are ruled by hereditary royal families. They command wide respect among the country's Muslim Malay majority, though their responsibilities are largely ceremonial. Executive power lies with elected state and national representatives. The state sultans take turns in becoming Malaysia's king for a period of five years. GPD © AP