Johor—On Sunday, April 14, Dr Sahruddin Jamal was sworn in as the new menteri besar, or Chief Minister, of Johor. Dr Sahruddin’s predecessor, Osman Sapian, resigned earlier in the week.
He took his oath before the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Ismail, on Sunday morning. The Crown Prince of Johor was also in attendance. A short video clip of the oath-taking was posted on the Sultan’s Facebook account on the same day.
Dr Sahruddin told the press after being sworn in that he has 14 days to appoint a new team of state executive councillors, but did not mention any prospective candidates.
The newly-minted menteri besar’s appointment came after a war of words last week between Malaysia’s Prime Minister Dr Tun Mahathir Mohamad, and the royals of Johor, in what amounted to a power struggle as to who really had the authority to appoint—and let go of—the chief minister of Johor.
Previous to Mr Osman’s resignation, rumours had abounded that the Sultan wanted him to step down as menteri besar. Mr Osman, a colourful figure, was a known ally of Dr Mahathir.
The position of Chief Minister of Johor is a significant one, given Johor’s strategic location and its proximity to Singapore.
Who is Sahruddin Jamal?
Dr Sahruddin, age 43, was the front-runner on the short list of those being considered for Chief Minister. A medical doctor by profession, he was the Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee chairman of Johor when he received his appointment. He is also an assemblyman representing the seat of Bukit Kepong.
Before his foray into public service, he had been practicing medicine at his own clinics and at the Sultanah Fatimah Specialist Hospital. He is married to a fellow physician, Dr Nila Armila Mukda, with whom he has three daughters.
A man of the people?
The New Straits Times (NST) reports that Dr Sahruddin is “adored by his Bukit Kepong constituents and the people of the state.”
He has developed a reputation for being someone who is generous and is committed to extending assistance to people, particularly those who are in need.
The NST also quoted Mohd Farid Alwi, a friend of Dr Sahruddin, as saying, that the new Menteri Besar often treated the poor or elderly at his clinic for free.
“Dr Sahruddin will never charge senior citizens and the poor when they visit his clinic for treatment. He would also give medicine to his patients from these two groups for free on top of providing the best medical treatment.
I am not praising Dr Sahruddin just because he is my friend, but I am also one of the patients at his clinic.”
Apparently, Dr Sahruddin’s wife has also developed a reputation for courtesy and warmth.
Well-wishes from the Sultan of Johor
Dr Sahruddin’s oath taking was featured several times in the Facebook page of the Sultan of Johor. On one of the posts, the Sultan wrote
“I congratulate Dr. Sahruddin Bin Jamal who has been appointed as the new Johor minister of Johor.
I hope he will be able to bear the responsibility of being honest, sincere and trustworthy, and prioritize the importance of the state rather than self-interest or politics, for the wellness of the people’s life and the economic prosperity of Johor state.”/TISG