JOHOR BARU - A rally in support of the Johor royalty outside the Bukit Serene Royal Palace yesterday drew a crowd of hundreds, as Johoreans turned up to back Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim in his ongoing spat with a federal minister.
Members of various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) gathered in front of the grand palace in Johor Baru to demand the resignation of Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz for making rude remarks against the royal family, The Star reported.
The fuse was lit on Saturday when Datuk Seri Nazri told Tunku Ismail to stay out of politics unless he wanted to be subject to the law like commoners and be "whacked".
Mr Nazri said this in response to a post made by the Crown Prince on June 5 criticising Prime Minister Najib Razak for withdrawing from an open dialogue, Nothing2Hide, earlier in the day. At the event, Datuk Seri Najib was expected to answer questions about state-owned investment agency 1Malaysia Development Berhad which is saddled with debts close to RM42 billion (S$15 billion).
Tunku Ismail, immediately after Mr Nazri's insult, responded through a video post in which he turned to the camera and made a beckoning gesture with his left hand, implying he was not afraid to face any challenge.
The highly anticipated Nothing2Hide, which could have seen Mr Najib facing his fiercest critic, former premier Mahathir Mohamad, was cancelled at the eleventh hour by police citing security concerns.
At the pro-royalty rally yesterday, Johor Malay NGO Supervision Council information and action chief Abdullah Md Yusof said Mr Nazri had no right to challenge the royal family.
"We, the people of Johor, feel that he (Nazri) should understand the rights of the royal institution and he should make a public apology to Johoreans," he said
"Nazri should resign as minister," he added.
Accompanied by his wife and siblings outside the palace gate, Tunku Ismail told the crowd he would always uphold the supremacy of the state to ensure the peace and harmony of Johoreans.
"Thank you for all your support. I do not want to speak much, as there are people in Putrajaya who want to whack me," he quipped.
"As my father always advises me, I am a humble servant of Johor," he added.
Mr Nazri continued to strike a defiant tone yesterday when he told the media in Selangor he was elected by his constituents to serve them, which sets him apart from the Crown Prince of Johor.
"The difference between us is that I was elected by the people. If I do not carry out my duties, then the rakyat (people) will punish me in due time.
"I have to face the people's court every five years but God willing, I have been judged five times and I won," he said during his official visit to Sekinchan town.
The minister would be investigated under Section 505B of the Penal Code for his remark against Tunku Ismail, which could cause alarm to the public, according to police.
In a speech released on Monday, Pahang Sultan Ahmad Shah said Malay rulers are above party politics, and "the people should refrain from extreme politics", the Bernama news agency reported.
"Whatever we do that is extreme can bring disaster," Sultan Ahmad Shah said in his speech when he chaired the 238th meeting of the Conference of Rulers last Thursday.