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Malaysian ex-sultan loses bid to reclaim throne

A former Malaysian sultan who was ousted by his son earlier this year on Friday lost a bid to overturn the appointment in the nation's highest court.

A three-member Federal Court panel threw out two petitions by Tengku Ismail Petra Yahya Petra, the former ruler of northern Kelantan state, in favor of his eldest son Tengku Muhammad Faris Petra, who is now Sultan Muhammad V.

After months of palace intrigue that captivated Malaysia, Tengku Muhammad Faris was appointed the new ruler in September, using his powers as regent to replace his frail father who has been incapacitated since a stroke a year ago.

The former sultan's two sons had been at loggerheads for the past year since the younger brother was removed from the state's succession council, which determines who is the next ruler.

In handing down the unanimous judgement on two of three petitions filed against the present Kelantan ruler, Justice Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin said the Regent was vested with all the powers of the Sultan.

"We are of the view that there can be only one individual attending to affairs of the state of Kelantan at any one time," he said.

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

The royals assume a ceremonial role and rarely speak publicly. The events in Kelantan -- including earlier allegations that the ailing sultan had been held in hospital against his will -- caused a major stir.

Last year, the Kelantan royals were embroiled in another controversy when the teenage wife of the younger son slipped away and returned to her family in Indonesia alleging abuse, rape and torture by the prince.

The former ruler's lawyer Azhar Azizan Harun said the court disagreed with their assertion that as regent, Tengku Muhammad Faris' authority and powers were limited.

"The effect of today's ruling is that once the regent is appointed, he is able to exercise all royal functions," he said.

Azhar said the court had yet to rule on a third petition which challenged the present Sultan's amendment of the state constitution in order to allow for more grounds to declare his father incapacitated.

"No date has been set for a ruling on the third petition and I will have to seek instructions from my client on how to proceed," he said.

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