KUALA LUMPUR - Johor has a right to secede from Malaysia if there is a breach of the terms agreed upon at the time of its membership to the Federation of Malaya, crown prince Tunku Ismail Ibrahim has said in a new interview.
In the interview with local football portal FourthOfficial, the prince said that as future Sultan of Johor, his duties were towards the state and its people before Malaysia, reported The Malay Mail Online.
"In fact, we only joined the Federation of Malaya upon both parties agreeing to several basic terms. And if any one of those terms are breached, we have every right to secede from this country," Tunku Ismail said.
"You can accuse me of instigating state-based sentiments, but to me, I'm merely doing my duty to the people of Johor, and reminding them of the history and heritage behind this great land," he added.
Referring to the crop of scandals currently affecting the country, Tunku Ismail said the royal family should not be associated with "the mess", adding that it has always been strong, independent and resourceful.
The crown prince's comments echo a similar sentiment expressed by his brother in June, where he cautioned on photo-sharing platform Instagram that the southern state may secede from Malaysia, reported the news portal.
In that post, Tunku Idris Ibrahim had pointed out that the Johor government had joined the Malay Federation in 1946 on several conditions, which included making Islam the religion of the state, the state's absolute right over water and land issues, and the state royal house having its own armed forces.
Calls for Johor's secession have been gaining steam online, with pictures of imaginary Johor currencies - the Johor dollar and Johor dinar - going viral on social media earlier this month.
Tunku Ismail has been a vocal critic of Putrajaya. He was embroiled in a very public spat with Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz after the Umno minister reportedly told the Johor crown prince to stay out of politics or Putrajaya will "whack" him, the website said.
He had commented on June 5 about Prime Minister Najib Razak's absence at the Nothing To Hide forum that was cancelled at the last minute to avoid a confrontation between Mr Najib and former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.