Who's the boss? Najib aide explains protocol

A photo showing Mr Najib (right) walking behind his wife Rosmah at Singapore's National Day celebration on Sunday. Seated on the right of the front row are Johor Sultan Ibrahim Ismail and Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim.
A photograph showing Mr Najib (right) walking behind his wife Rosmah at Singapore's National Day celebration on Sunday. Seated on the right of the front row are Johor Sultan Ibrahim Ismail and Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim.PHOTO: STRAITS TIMES READER

Petaling Jaya • An aide to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's wife Rosmah Mansor said she was walking ahead of her husband because of the seating arrangements and not because she sees herself as his boss.

Mr Rizal Mansor was responding to a photo of the couple at Singapore's National Day celebration on Sunday that went viral with comments that Ms Rosmah was "bossing" her husband around again.

Mr Rizal also dismissed claims that the Prime Minister's plane was barred from landing in Johor by the state's sultan, whose family has been critical of the Najib administration.

Referring to the photo, he said Ms Rosmah walked ahead because of the seating plan. "It was like going to the movies, who is seated on the inside must go in first," he was quoted as saying on Facebook by the Malaysiakini news website. "The seating and the position she enters is determined by Singapore's protocol."

Mr Rizal also posted a photo to show that Ms Rosmah was not the only wife of a head of government at the celebrations.

He slammed as slanderous a widely circulated claim that Datuk Seri Najib was "forced to go to Johor through Singapore and travel using Singaporean vehicles as he was not allowed to land in Senai Airport" by the Johor Sultan. This came after a photo showed Mr Najib arriving for an Umno division meeting in Johor in a vehicle with a Singapore car plate number.

Mr Rizal said Mr Najib was on official duty in Singapore and had briefly crossed back into Johor for the Umno function. "The vehicle used by Najib was provided by the Singapore Government (for Najib) to re-enter Johor... He then returned to Singapore for an official function there," he said in the Facebook posting.

The Johor Menteri Besar's press secretary Asri Khalbi also denied there was a ban, calling it an attempt to sour ties between the federal government, state government and the Johor palace, Malaysiakini reported.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2015, with the headline 'Who's the boss? Najib aide explains protocol'. Print Edition | Subscribe