Johor tensions: Sultan urges state, federal govt to set aside row after Mahathir comments

Malaysia Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad reminded everyone that it is the government that has the last say on who is menteri besar, not the constitutional monarchs. PHOTO: REUTERS

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Johor's Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar on Thursday (April 25) said he hoped that with the appointment of the state's new Menteri Besar Sahruddin Jamal and state executive councillors, any misunderstanding or disputes between the state and federal governments would be set aside.

His comments came after Datuk Sahruddin, who was appointed as Menteri Besar on April 8, ruffled feathers earlier this week with a reshuffle of the Johor exco in a move that apparently defied the Cabinet. "I hope all quarters will give their full cooperation to ensure the administration runs smoothly," Sultan Ibrahim wrote on his official Facebook page.

He added that the state leadership should work together and double their efforts to help the people. "It is better that we meet and discuss this in a mature way for the benefit of everyone - especially the people," he said.

Sultan Ibrahim's remarks followed comments from Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in a blog post on Wednesday in which he reminded everyone that it is the government that has the last say on who is Menteri Besar and not the constitutional monarchs.

Tun Mahathir's comments were seen as a veiled warning to those who interfere with executive appointments by the government of the day.

Former Johor Menteri Besar Osman Sapian, who tendered his resignation to the Prime Minister on April 8, previously said that the Johor Ruler had wanted a change in the exco line-up.

Dr Mahathir, in the blog post, listed the events that led to the adoption of the country's Federal Constitution, where it was agreed that Malaya (and later Malaysia) would be a democracy where the people would choose its government.

Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim posted excerpts of the Federal Constitution on the rights and powers of Rulers on his Facebook page. PHOTO: ST FILE

"The rulers would be constitutional heads without executive power. Their position would be guaranteed by the Constitution, which would be the supreme law of the country," he said.

On Monday night, at a hastily convened meeting of Dr Mahathir's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), top party leaders said that Dr Mahathir had felt slighted by how the new Johor exco line-up was selected. Supreme council member Kadir Jasin also said the Cabinet had a "general understanding" that there would not be a reshuffle of the state exco despite Dr Sahruddin's appointment.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad sent a subtle shot across the bow to newly-minted Johor Menteri Besar Sahruddin Jamal. PHOTO: DR SAHRUDDIN JAMAL/FACEBOOK

Dr Mahathir's blog post drew an apparent response from Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, who posted excerpts of the Federal Constitution on the rights and powers of the Rulers on his Facebook page on Wednesday.

Tunku Ismail cited Article 71 (1) which states that the "Federation shall guarantee the right of a Ruler of a State to succeed and to hold, enjoy and exercise the constitutional rights and privileges of Ruler of that State".

Responding to the Sultan's comments on Thursday, Malaysia's Home Minister and PPBM president Muhyiddin Yassin said that while the Sultan's suggestion that things must be worked out was good, the palace must also admit its mistakes and stop interfering with the affairs of the state government.

"The Sultan also has to agree that certain things have been done by him that created some feelings of uneasiness when it comes to matters of state," said Tan Sri Muhyiddin.

"It is not personal. I suggest Johor Mentri Besar and the state government discuss with him as to what needs to be done and what needs to be cleared so that once and for all, we work as Malaysians and things can be settled," he added.

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