Johor ruler ticks off Pakatan MP for mosque speech

JOHOR BARU • The Sultan of Johor has ticked off an MP from Pakatan Harapan (PH) for making a speech at a mosque in Labis, stressing that political activities are not allowed in any mosque or surau in the southern Malaysian state.

In a royal decree posted on his official website yesterday, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar said he had received complaints about Labis MP Pang Hok Liong, who gave a speech at the Tenang Stesyen Mosque last Friday.

He said the MP's actions "brought about uneasiness, deep disappointment and stirred objections from Muslims in the local area as well as Johor generally".

The ruler described Mr Pang's actions as "a serious violation of the sanctity of the mosque as well as a threat to the position of Islam as the official religion of the state".

Mr Pang told the Malaysiakini news site he did not raise any political issues in his speech and was at the mosque merely to hand out aid in conjunction with the Muslim fasting month. "I didn't touch... on politics. My speech was brief. It was just to announce the aid and to wish them a happy Ramadan, that was it. Is there anything wrong with a non-Muslim giving contributions to a mosque?" he said.

Sultan Ibrahim noted in his decree that he was sure the MP would deny making political speeches at the event, but he wanted to stress that mosques and suraus are off-limits for political activities.

"This is because many of the activities organised by representatives from political parties are coloured with divisive statements, insults and slander and they become arenas for gaining the community's sympathy to raise their popularity," he said.

 
 

The ruler urged the Johor Islamic Council to take stern action against any mosque administrators who provide politicians with a platform for their political activities.

This is the latest disagreement between the PH government and the Johor royal family since they clashed in April over who had the final say on official appointments to the Johor state government.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2019, with the headline 'Johor ruler ticks off Pakatan MP for mosque speech'. Print Edition | Subscribe