Mahathir v Johor royals: Bad blood stretches back to 1990s

Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar driving Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in a first-generation Proton Saga to Senai International Airport in Johor on Jan 10. Since Dr Mahathir first retired from power in 2003, Malaysia's nine monarchies have flexed the
Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar driving Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in a first-generation Proton Saga to Senai International Airport in Johor on Jan 10. Since Dr Mahathir first retired from power in 2003, Malaysia's nine monarchies have flexed their muscles, with the Sultan's influence in Johor impacting political leadership and business decisions.PHOTO: MALAYSIAN INSIGHT

Recent clashes recall Mahathir's first time as PM when govt removed royals' immunities

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's fierce exchanges with the Johor royalty in recent weeks have focused on Kuala Lumpur's now-retracted decision to accede to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and on appointments to the state government.

But the genesis of the bad blood stretches back not just to the Crown Prince's call not to vote for Tun Dr Mahathir in last year's election, but to the early 1990s, during the 93-year-old leader's first period in office when the government removed immunities enjoyed by Malaysia's Malay rulers following episodes of assault by Johorean royalty.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 28, 2019, with the headline 'Mahathir v Johor royals: Bad blood stretches back to 1990s'. Print Edition | Subscribe