He sent the country reeling on Sunday (Jan 6) with an unprecedented resignation.
Now Malaysia’s 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Muhammad V, is King no more, having abdicated the throne to the next ruler.
Under Malaysia’s rotational monarchy system, a king is typically elected for five years from each of the nine Malay royal houses.
Sultan Muhammad V, whose original name was Tengku Muhammad Faris Petra ibni Tengku Ismail Petra, was made Crown Prince of Kelantan at the tender age of 10, the Straits Times (ST) reported.
He then studied diplomatic and Islamic studies at the University of Oxford, according to AsiaOne.
A separate ST report cited The Star as saying that Sultan Muhammad V was believed to have married 24-year-old Kangsadal Pipitpakdee, a Thai descendant of Muslim royalty, in 2004, when he was 35 years old.
In 2009, his father suffered a stroke and by the following year was deemed incapacitated by illness, resulting in the crowning of the then-prince as Sultan of Kelantan in May 2010 at age 40.
Four months later, while his father was warded in Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Sultan Muhammad V dismissed his younger brother, Tengku Muhammad Fakhry Petra, from Kelantan’s Succession Council, ST said. The council decides on whether a new Sultan should be installed.
He then went on to serve as Malaysia’s deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong from 2011 to 2016, according to the New Straits Times. Like the title of King, this role is held for five years.
On Apr 24, 2017, Sultan Muhammad V ascended the throne as Malaysia’s King at the age of 49. According to a report by ST, he divorced his Thai wife in 2008, and was crowned without a queen consort.
During his two-year reign, he witnessed the swearing in of current Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and received Mahathir at the Istana Negara before he took his oath of office, Bernama reported.
ST’s report added that it was “only after several press conferences reiterating PH’s wish that Dr Mahathir return as premier” that the former King swore him in.
Sultan Muhammad V also granted PKR President Anwar Ibrahim a full pardon from previous sodomy charges, resulting in his release from prison.
Malaysia’s Attorney-General, Tommy Thomas, was also sworn in two weeks late as Sultan Muhammad V only “acceded to the choice” of a non Malay-Muslim candidate after a meeting with Anwar, ST reported.
According to Bernama, Sultan Muhammad V took two months of leave in 2018 – from Nov 2 to Dec 31 – to “undergo treatment”. During this time, it was widely speculated that he had married former Russian model Oksana Voevodina in a ceremony in Moscow, and both had visited a fertility clinic in Germany.
Sultan Muhammad V has no heirs.
The South China Morning Post said Sultan Muhammad V’s abdication was rumoured to be linked to his wedding to Voevodina, while ST added that there were rumors that “other rulers were not agreeable to (Voevodina’s) coronation as Queen”.
According to Bernama, one of the final public events Sultan Muhammad V attended as King was Friday prayers at the Sultan Ismail Petra Mosque in Kelantan on Jan 4.
Two days later, he created history by becoming the first king to step down before his full term.
In a Facebook post on Monday (Jan 7), he said simply: “thank you”.
According to Bernama, three other Kings in Malaysia’s history did not complete their five-year term, but this was due to their deaths.
These include Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan Almarhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman ibni Al-Marhum Tuanku Muhammad, Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah Al-Haj Ibni Almarhum Sultan Ala’iddin Sulaiman Shah, and Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah.