Putrajaya—The tension between Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Tun Mahathir Mohamad and the royal family of Johor seems to have escalated with Dr Mahathir labeling the Crown Prince ‘stupid’ and a ‘little boy.’
However, The New Straits Times reports that Dr Mahathir had denied that there is any “animosity” between him and the ruler of Johor.
The Malaysian Prime Minister made his latest remarks about Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, the Crown Prince of Johor, as he commented on the Prince’s outburst over the reportedly unappreciated and unpublicised contributions of his father, the Sultan of Johor.
The context of the Prince’s outburst is a dispute involving land in Bukit Chagar needed for the Rapid Transit System project connecting Johor Baru and Woodlands North in Singapore. According to Dr Mahathir, the Federal Government now owns the 4.5 hectares of land allotted for the project, but the bone of contention is the land belongs to Sultan Ibrahim.
The land is allegedly among federal land that surrounds the Sultan Iskandar Building customs, immigration and quarantine complex, before the RTS project’s realignment two years ago.
The Prime Minister downplayed the rift between himself and the royal family, and the Malay Mail reports that at the beginning he said little about the Sultan of Johor, but later talked about the Crown Prince.
Dr Mahathir said, “No, I don’t see it as anything, because I even went to see him (for an audience) and he drove me to the airport.
I don’t want to comment on the Sultan, because if I say anything that is not good, it is not nice because he is the Sultan.
But, this TMJ (Tunku Mahkota Johor), he is a little boy.
He is stupid because he does not know what is happening.
So don’t talk. When you do not know anything, don’t talk,” the Prime Minister said at a special media interview in his office on Monday, May 6.
After the former Chief Minister of Johor, Osman Sapian, resigned last month, as well as Malaysia’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the public squabble between Dr Mahathir and the Johor Royals has become worse. Never an easy relationship, tensions between them actually began when Dr Mahathir was Prime Minister of Malaysia the first time around, from 1981 to 2003.
Late last month, Dr Mahathir upheld the country’s 1957 federal constitution as the highest law of the land in what many interpret to be a message to the royal family of Johor, as he emphasised how it superseded state constitutions even if they pre-date the federal one.
In a 14-point blog post, which he also posted on his Facebook page, he wrote, “The constitutions of Johor and Terengganu which were promulgated earlier were nullified by the new constitution which was accepted by all the states of Malaysia.”
Notably he wrote, in points number 10 and 11 of his post
“10. It was agreed that Malaya would be a democracy where the people would choose the Government. The rulers would be constitutional heads without executive power. Their position would be guaranteed by the Constitution which would be the supreme law of the country.”
Furthermore, the Prime Minister said that according to the constitution, the party that would win in the election would be the one to name the chief minister. “11. The party winning the election would name the Prime Minister (or the Chief Minister – Menteri Besar) and the constitutional head would endorse.”
Soon after, in what seemed to be an answer to Dr Mahathir’s call to uphold the constitution as the highest law of the land, the Crown Prince of Johor emphasised that Johor is a sovereign state and that it has its own constitution.
Therefore, he asked that “those who have nothing to do with Johor, don’t meddle with Islamic religious affairs, which are state matters.”
Furthermore, he said that creating problems among the people of Johor must end./ TISG