By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 — All is not well within the Kelantan royal household as Tengku Muhammad Fakhry Petra, who is the Tengku Temenggung of the state, is seeking to challenge the validity of his elder brother, Tengku Muhammad Faris’s decision in removing him from the Council of Succession.
The Council of Succession (Majlis Perajaan Negeri) is responsible for determining who will succeed the Sultan of Kelantan in the future as the rightful ruler, and also whether there is a vacancy on the throne by reason of a prolonged absence from the State by the reigning Sovereign.
These provisions are spelled out under the second part of the Laws of the Constitution of Kelantan.
It is understood that Tengku Fakhry, the youngest of three princes, received a letter of termination dated Sept 16, 2009 from his elder brother, who is currently the Regent of Kelantan.
The letter states that Tengku Fakhry has been relieved of his duties as a member of the Council of Succession.
He was subsequently informed the termination was made on the orders of Tengku Faris, 35.
Also named in the application for judicial review are the state secretary; the state mufti; the Kelantan government; and four other members of the royal household. The state secretary is also secretary to the council.
The Kelantan prince is seeking to quash the decision of his elder brother on the grounds that the Regent’s decision cannot be exercised by him (Tengku Faris) and must be exercised personally by the Sultan himself.
Tengku Fakhry claims his brother acted beyond his powers as Regent, therefore opening an avenue to review his actions in the Court of Appeal.
Tengku Fakhry’s lawyer, K. Shanmuga had submitted a skeletal submission stating that his removal from the Council of Succession was unlawful as it was done in a “manner inconsistent with and contrary to Article 8 of the Federal Constitution, and in breach of the principles of natural justice.”
The decision was viewed as being objectively unfair as the Kelantan Prince was not given an opportunity to be heard, and no reason for the removal has been given to date.
Additionally, Tengku Fakhry is also seeking the annulment of Tengku Faris’ decision of appointing Datuk Haji Hashim Datuk Haji Yusoff; Datuk Tengku Hajah Salwah Al-Marhum Sultan Yahya Petra; Datuk Sukri Haji Mohamed; Datuk Haji Che Mohd Rahim Jusoh; and Kol. Dr. Mohammad Razin Kamarulzaman (being the 4th to 8th respondents) to the Council of Succession, on the grounds that their appointments are inconsistent with Article 7 of the Laws of the Constitution of Kelantan.
Tengku Fakhry filed the application for judicial review on Dec 1 to challenge the regent’s decision to dismiss him on Sept 16.
Tengku Faris was appointed as the Regent on May 25, 2009, as the Sultan of Kelantan, Sultan Ismail Petra has been critically ill since May and is currently undergoing treatment in Singapore.
It is said that the Sultan now appears to be recovering from his illness. Earlier today, Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat said the state government would be bringing the Sultan back for further treatment in a local hospital, pending medical tests on his condition.
Tengku Fakhry has attested that the regent’s right as the heir to the throne can be challenged because the Council of Succession supposedly has the right in determining the next ruler.
Senior Federal Council (SFC) Datin Azizah Nawawi is challenging the application on the grounds the regent’s action cannot be tried in court.
Judicial Commissioner Mohamad Ariff Md. Yusof has fixed Dec 31 to decide whether the young prince’s application for judicial review will proceed.