JOHOR BARU • The Sultan of Johor has strongly rebuked Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad over the former prime minister's disapproval of Bangsa Johor - the term the royal family uses to refer to its people regardless of their racial background.
Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar expressed his displeasure over the remarks made by Dr Mahathir that the concept could disunite the people.
"Tun Mahathir's uncalled-for remarks reflect his complete ignorance of Johor's history.
"My great-grandfather, Sultan Sir Ibrahim, in 1920 made the clarion call (for) Bangsa Johor to unite the various races in Johor under one flag for greater cooperation, harmony and peaceful existence. No race or individual was marginalised. He has been proven correct.
"The Bangsa Johor concept was initiated even before Tun Mahathir was born. He has no idea of what he is talking about," the Sultan said on Wednesday.
Dr Mahathir made the remarks earlier on Wednesday during a dialogue on "Federal-States Relations" at the Perdana Leadership Foundation in Kuala Lumpur.
NO RIGHT TO INTERFERE
He has quarrelled with many world leaders, including with our neighbour Singapore, and has put Malaysia in a (tight) spot. And now he talks about unity with an incredibly straight face. Tun Mahathir is the root cause of the present problems in the country. He has no right to interfere in my state. I will not tolerate his antics.
JOHOR'S SULTAN IBRAHIM
When asked for his opinion about the Bangsa Johor concept, he said that unity among Malaysians could wane if the people practised too much parochialism.
While Johor has the right to promote the idea of Bangsa Johor, Dr Mahathir said what should be pushed, instead, is for the people to embrace the fact that they are all Malaysians, instead of identifying themselves from the state they come from.
"Only when we are united can the nation prosper," he said, adding that "after all, we are all citizens of Malaysia, irrespective of our colour, religion, ethnicity or even position".
Sultan Ibrahim said Dr Mahathir was not qualified to talk about unity. "He is going around dividing the people, including the Malays, while I am uniting Malaysians of all races, including the Malays," he said.
Sultan Ibrahim said Dr Mahathir should understand all states enjoy their own unique pride but that does not mean they are leaving the Federation.
"It is a figment of Dr Mahathir's imagination. He is stirring the hornet's nest and my advice to him is to keep his mouth shut."
Sultan Ibrahim said Dr Mahathir has earned a reputation for being a confrontational person who has caused division, especially in his foreign relations policy.
"He has quarrelled with many world leaders, including with our neighbour Singapore, and has put Malaysia in a (tight) spot. And now he talks about unity with an incredibly straight face.
"Tun Mahathir is the root cause of the present problems in the country. He has no right to interfere in my state. I will not tolerate his antics," the Johor Sultan said.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK