KOTA BARU, Malaysia - Tengku Muhammad Faris Petra, eldest son of Sultan Ismail Petra, ascended the throne yesterday to succeed his father as the sultan of Kelantan.
The official declaration was made by Menteri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat in a brief ceremony at Istana Balai Besar at 12.20pm.
This followed the appointment of Tengku Faris, 41, as the 29th Sultan of Kelantan by Majlis Perajaan Negeri (MPN), or the state Succession Council, at a meeting held at the state secretariat at 9am.
All but two of the 17-member panel of the council attended the meeting.
The 15 unanimously agreed to the appointment of Tengku Faris as the successor to Sultan Ismail Petra, who has yet to fully recover from his illness.
The appointment was based on Article 23A of the state Constitution (part two).
It is learnt that the council members who were not present at the meeting were Gua Musang member of parliament and a member of the state royalty, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, and Tengku Faris' youngest sister Tengku Amalin A'ishah Puteri.
Nik Aziz was given the mandate by the council to make the announcement before several hundred guests, who included members of the state royalty, state executive councillors and senior government officers.
"The council agreed to select, appoint and endorse Duli Yang Maha Mulia Tengku Muhammad Faris Petra Ibni Sultan Ismail Petra to ascend the throne as the ruler of Kelantan to succeed Sultan Ismail Petra, effective from today (yesterday)," he declared.
Nik Aziz said all the subjects declared their loyalty and affection for the new sultan beside praying for Allah to provide His blessings to the ruler.
He ended his speech by making three calls of Allahuakbar.
The Kelantan palace has been surrounded by controversies involving some royalty members since Tengku Faris was appointed as the regent on May 24 last year after his father fell ill and was taken to a Singapore hospital for a heart treatment.
Later, at a press conference at Istana Negeri, MPN secretary Datuk Aiseri Alias said the council felt that there was a need to appoint a successor to Sultan Ismail Petra based on his condition as provided for under the Article 23A of the state Constitution.
He said Article 23A was an amended provision which was gazetted on July 22 after Majlis Penasihat Raja (Ruler's Advisory Council), following its meeting on July 18, which had informed the regent to issue a decree under Article 3 (2) to amend part two of the state Constitution through a proclamation.
On whether Sultan Ismail Petra would be informed about the appointment, he said MPN had requested Tengku Bendahara Kelantan Tengku Muhammad Faiz Petra to tell his father.
On whether MPN had referred to the sultan's medical report before appointing the successor, he said it was not necessary.
"According to the state constitution, MPN need not refer to any third party to make any decisions."
Nik Aziz said all problems relating to the palace can now be resolved.
"I call on all the people irrespective of race to pray for the new sultan to safeguard the state."
He said those who were unhappy with the development should keep their feelings to themselves to ensure the state remained peaceful.
He said it had been more than a year that he had been asked by the people about the palace situation but could not tell them much.
"I cannot provide them with answers as I do not like to tell such stories as I hold the royal institution in high regard."
It is understood that the MPN - through Article 23A - also decided that Sultan Ismail Petra would be placed in a special position where he will enjoy royal perks such as provisions of residence and allowance, the quantum of which will be decided later by the state government.
Sources said he would be officially addressed as Duli Yang Maha Mulia Sultan Ismail Petra while his consort would be referred to as Raja Perempuan Anis.
Tengku Faris, who has been single for some time, has been viewed by the public as a down-to-earth prince when he was the regent.
The perception follows his humility and warm demeanour when he attended public functions.
One of the most endearing qualities is his preference to put aside palace protocol, especially at functions in villages and mosques.