Johor Bahru—In what may be an answer to Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Tun Mahathir Mohamad’s call to uphold the 1957 federal constitution as the highest law of the land, the Crown Prince of Johor on April 25, Thursday, 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 Johor people must end.
He added, “And don’t create problems among the people of Johor or confuse them, including the Johor royalty. In fact, Johor is always ready to share knowledge and work together to strengthen the community in the region.”
Prince Tunku Ismail Ibrahim made these remarks at an event held in conjunction with the official birthday of Johor Sultan Iskandar Ibrahim. The new menteri besar, or chief minister, of Johor Dr Sahruddin Jamal, was also present, along with Johor executive council member Tosrin Jarvanthi.
Other members of the royal family were present as well.
Prince Tunku Ismail warned against activities that could put Muslims in a negative light, such as smearing the image of mosques and prayer rooms. He encouraged that appropriate matters should only be discussed during sermons and other activities in Johor’s mosques and prayer rooms.
He also pointed out that the speakers at mosques should not only be sensitive to political issues but also be qualified and accredited by the Johor Islamic Religious Council.
He added, “The same applies to speakers from political parties who, despite being qualified in Islamic matters, could lace their talks with politics because of their political leanings.
The Crown Prince reminded his audience not to be a thorn in the flesh.
“In this matter, I would like to remind all, don’t be a thorn in the flesh. The consequences will be damaging. If we cause confusion in these places by raising matters not connected to Islam, the role of mosques and prayer rooms in propagating Islamic teachings will become meaningless.”
The verbal tussle between the Malaysian Prime Minister and the Royal Family of Johor has been going on for some time now and has encompassed various issues including the ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the Johor shipping hub project, and the appointment of Johor’s chief minister.
Earlier this week, 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 emphasized 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.”
The Prime Minister’s post seemed particularly pointed in the wake of what many perceived to be interference from the Sultan of Johor in the resignation of the former Chief Minister (menteri besar) of Johor, Osman Sapian, and his replacement with his successor, Sahruddin Jamal.
According to the royals of Johor, the state constitution dictates that it is within the jurisdiction of the royal family to choose the chief minister and exec members of Johor.
Dr Mahathir was reportedly displeased that Mr Sahruddin had reshuffled the former state executive council, which the royals had asked for, instead of sticking to a cabinet agreement to keep the state executive council in place.
On Monday, April 22, Tosrin Jarvanthi and Mohd Solihan Badri from Bersatu and Tan Chen Choon from DAP were sworn in before the sultan at Istana Bukit Serene in Johor Baru as new members of the state executive council. Mr Sahruddin was also awarded a datukship by the Sultan.
However, according to Dr Mahathir, the state executive council lineup was for the Johor Pakatan Harapan to decide upon, and that “The Johor sultan has no influence,” he said, on the state executive council./ TISG
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