Expect state Cabinet reshuffle, says new Johor Menteri Besar

Dr Sahruddin Jamal being sworn in as Johor's 17th Menteri Besar yesterday at the main state palace, Istana Bukit Serene. The 43-year-old replaces Datuk Osman Sapian.
Dr Sahruddin Jamal being sworn in as Johor's 17th Menteri Besar yesterday at the main state palace, Istana Bukit Serene. The 43-year-old replaces Datuk Osman Sapian.PHOTO: BERNAMA

PPBM assemblyman replaces fellow party member who quit post after just 11 months

JOHOR BARU • Dr Sahruddin Jamal, a Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) assemblyman, was sworn in to replace Datuk Osman Sapian as Johor's Menteri Besar yesterday.

Dr Sahruddin, who is currently the state's executive councillor for the health, environment and agriculture committee, took his oath of office before the Johor ruler, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, at the main palace, Istana Bukit Serene.

The 43-year-old politician was pictured receiving his appointment letter at the royal palace in a post on Sultan Ibrahim's official Facebook page.

Also present at the ceremony were the Crown Prince of Johor, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, and the Sultan's son-in-law, Datuk Dennis Muhammad Abdullah.

Mr Osman and state leaders from the four-party Pakatan Harapan (PH) ruling coalition, of which his PPBM party is also a member, also attended the ceremony. PPBM is led by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Dr Sahruddin replaced Mr Osman, whose resignation was announced by Tun Dr Mahathir last Tuesday, just 11 months after the PH alliance stormed to power in the state that was a stronghold of Umno.

After being sworn in, Dr Sahruddin was seen hugging Mr Osman to thank him for his service and advice.

Dr Sahruddin Jamal won the Bukit Kepong state seat at the country's general election on May 9 last year after defeating Umno's Mohd Noor Taib and Parti Islam SeMalaysia's Mohamad Nur Iqbal Abd Razak. The new chief minister has a medical degree from Hasanuddin University in Makassar, Indonesia, and operated his own clinic in Johor prior to entering politics, the Bernama news agency reported. He is married to doctor Nila Armila Mukdan.

Dr Sahruddin won the Bukit Kepong state seat at the country's general election on May 9 last year after defeating Umno's Mohd Noor Taib and Parti Islam SeMalaysia's Mohamad Nur Iqbal Abd Razak.

The new chief minister has a medical degree from Hasanuddin University in Makassar, Indonesia, and operated his own clinic in Johor prior to entering politics, the Bernama news agency reported.

He is married to doctor Nila Armila Mukdan.

Dr Sahruddin told reporters after the ceremony that Johor will have a new line-up for its executive council (exco), the state Cabinet, soon.

There are currently 10 state exco members, with two each from the PPBM, Parti Amanah Negara and Parti Keadilan Rakyat, as well as four from the Democratic Action Party.

Speculation over Dr Sahruddin's possible appointment as the next Menteri Besar mounted last week following Mr Osman's absence from the 9th Singapore-Malaysia Leaders' Retreat in Putrajaya last Tuesday.

Dr Sahruddin had served as Mr Osman's official representative at the leaders' retreat.

Following Dr Mahathir's announcement of Mr Osman's resignation, Tunku Ismail tweeted that his father, the Johor ruler, had wanted to replace Mr Osman for some months.

Mr Osman's departure came amid growing tensions between Dr Mahathir and Sultan Ibrahim in recent weeks, with both claiming to have the right to appoint the state's next Menteri Besar.

Dr Mahathir's decision to replace Mr Osman followed an announcement of the federal government's plans recently to develop a ship-to-ship transfer hub in Johor Baru port waters, according to PH sources.

Tunku Ismail and Mr Osman both claimed they were unaware of the multimillion-dollar hub project.

Mr Osman, in a press conference last Saturday, said he had resigned of his own accord.

But he stopped short of explaining why he wanted to leave the post, saying "everyone knew and I do not need to elaborate further".

Mr Osman, whose 11-month tenure as Menteri Besar is the shortest ever in the state, appeared cheerful at the press conference that he held after earlier meeting Sultan Ibrahim.

Mr Osman told reporters yesterday that he would continue to serve his constituents as Kempas assemblyman as he had about four more years to serve.


Federal govt should stop talking about who has authority in Johor: Sultan

JOHOR BARU • Johor's Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar said yesterday that the federal government should stop wasting time talking about who has the authority over Johor, in a clear reference to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

In a statement on Facebook after the swearing-in of a new Johor Menteri Besar, the 60-year-old ruler said: "I would like to advise the government to stop wasting time by talking too much about non-beneficial things, slandering and creating stories just to attract attention or to confuse the rakyat (people).

"Instead, focus your attention on assisting the people's welfare and improving the country's economic development."

The Johor ruler and his son - the Crown Prince, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim - have been at loggerheads with Tun Dr Mahathir over who has the right to appoint the new Menteri Besar after Datuk Osman Sapian resigned last week, and whether the federal government has the right to speak about Johor affairs.

Dr Mahathir, 93, said he has the right to speak about Johor as it is part of the Malaysian federation.

He was quoted by Malay Mail online news as saying last week: "I am (of) the opinion that if we assume that those who choose prime ministers and Menteris Besar are the monarchs, we will no longer be a democratic country.

"This is because a party that was rightfully chosen by the people, that has the power to appoint Menteris Besar, has had its rights denied. We would be a country with an absolute monarchy."

Sultan Ibrahim said yesterday: "The Johor government has long been established, where it has its own culture and way of administrating itself.

"Those on the outside do not have to start talking about who has the power and how to administer the state."

Experts say that under the state Constitution, the political party or coalition that wins the state in an election has the right to pick the Menteri Besar, which the ruler would then "appoint".

Sultan Ibrahim, who has extensive business interests in the state, regularly makes public declarations on its economic policies and does not shy away from getting directly involved in state administrative matters.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2019, with the headline 'Expect state Cabinet reshuffle, says new Johor Menteri Besar'. Print Edition | Subscribe