Malaysia sports minister says Johor Crown Prince made demands that could not be met

Malaysia's Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said he was once close to the Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim (above), but their relationship soured when the crown prince made demands that made him "uncomfortable".
Malaysia's Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said he was once close to the Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim (above), but their relationship soured when the crown prince made demands that made him "uncomfortable".PHOTO: ST FILE

PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman claimed that the Johor Crown Prince had made some demands that made him "uncomfortable".

Mr Syed Saddiq, 26, Malaysia's youngest Cabinet minister, said he was once close to Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, but their relationship soured when the 34-year old Crown Prince made those demands.

"He was someone whom I was close to, especially before the 14th General Election," Mr Syed Saddiq said in an interview with the media at his ministry on Tuesday (April 23).

"But before the election, there were some specific demands that he made that I couldn't fulfil. The demands were political in nature, and made me immensely uncomfortable."

"If you remember, the day I announced my candidacy in Muar was the day he wrote the open letter asking Johoreans not to 'change ship'."

Tunku Ismail had just before last May's general election told Johoreans in a Facebook posting to let Najib Razak continue as prime minister, rather than voting in then opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad and his Pakatan Harapan alliance.

"After the election, we met up twice," Mr Syed Saddiq said. "There were also some specific demands made which I could not fulfil because I personally believe in not interfering in business and making demands which may rattle the sports scene."

The young minister claimed that one of the demands Tunku Ismail made was for a high-profile boxing match featuring Manny Pacquiao on July 15 last year to be cancelled.

The WBA welterweight championship match between the Philippine superstar and Lucas Matthysse was held at Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur.

Mr Syed Saddiq said: "There were demands for a last-minute cancellation, which would have caused a diplomatic crisis because six ministers from the Philippines had been invited over (for it).

"Tens of millions of investment would have been lost because it was to be broadcast live on a hundred international channels.

"Datuk Zaiton (recently retired Sports Commissioner Datuk Zaiton Othman) and I had to seek an audience with Tunku Ismail.

"This (demand for the cancellation) was something I could not defend."

 
 

The minister said that while he respects Tunku Ismail as a member of the royalty, his priority would always be towards the rakyat.

"Being a young politician, I personally believe if I don't stick to my politics or principles, I will lose myself very early on."

"For the sake of what? To appeal to specific groups? My intention in politics is to clean Malaysia and its politics."

"I still humbly respect him (Tunku Ismail) as the future Sultan of Johor, but our disagreements will always be there."

"In the end, the rakyat will be my priority," said Mr Syed Saddiq.