Johor prince's cryptic post hints at secession

JOHOR BARU - Another member of the Johor royal family has created a stir in Malaysian politics, with an Instagram posting at the weekend suggesting a possible secession of the southern state from Malaysia.

With no accompanying caption or message, a screenshot of what is believed to be the Johor state's agreement to become part of the Federation of Tanah Melayu was posted on the Instagram photo- sharing page of Johor prince Tunku Idris Sultan Ibrahim on Sunday.

The agreement inked by the late Sultan Abu Bakar states that the Johor government agrees to sign it only if certain conditions are met, the Free Malaysia Today news site reported.

The conditions included Islam being the official religion of the state, the land in Johor being the absolute right of the Johor government and, most importantly, that the power of the Johor government lay in the hands of the sultan.

"If any of the conditions are violated, Johor will be out of Malaysia," said the Malaysiakini website, citing the agreement.

The cryptic post, which was removed yesterday, follows an ugly spat between the Prince's brother, Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, and Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz.

Hundreds of people turned up outside the Crown Prince's palace on Tuesday to support the royal family after Datuk Seri Nazri warned Tunku Ismail to stay out of politics if he did not want to be "whacked".

Mr Nazri's swipe was triggered when the Crown Prince slammed Prime Minister Najib Razak for not attending an open forum earlier this month to explain the alleged fraudulent deals of the state-owned investment engine 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

The two princes are not the only members in the family who have a bone to pick with Datuk Seri Najib and his administration.

Their father, Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Sultan Iskandar, is an open critic of the 6 per cent goods and services tax (GST) introduced by the federal government on April 1.

Last month, Johor instructed all its 16 local councils to stop charging GST for its services to the public. The Sultan had said it was illogical to impose the tax on public services as it was a duty to provide free services to taxpayers.

Johor, together with 10 other Malay states, agreed to form the Federation of Tanah Melayu in 1946.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2015, with the headline 'Johor prince's cryptic post hints at secession'. Print Edition | Subscribe