SANDAKAN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The tension between Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim is not due to a personal feud, said Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, president of the biggest political party in the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.
Mr Anwar, who is president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat - one of the four parties in PH - said Tun Dr Mahathir was merely trying to ensure that the spirit of the Federal Constitution is preserved.
"The issue is not personal. The PM wants to ensure the constitutional spirit is observed and I think we are with him on that," Mr Anwar told reporters during a walkabout at a Ramadan bazaar in Sabah's Sandakan town on Tuesday (May 7), where a by-election is being held.
Dr Mahathir on Monday called Tunku Ismail a "little boy who does not know anything", and "stupid" during a special interview with the media.
The Premier was commenting on Tunku Ismail's remarks that the good deeds of the Palace of Johor were not being given enough credit and that this had ruffled the relationship between the government and the Johor royals.
The Johor Crown Prince had claimed the royal Johor family was a victim of "character assassination" and was being unfairly criticised over the Rapid Transit System (RTS) project.
It has been revealed that Johor ruler had taken over a plot of land beside the Johor strait that was to be used for the RTS link to Singapore. Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar has said that he is willing to pass the land back to the federal government if the RTS project is started "immediately".
The tension between Dr Mahathir and the Johor royals ratcheted when the Prime Minister's special media adviser Datuk A. Kadir Jasin on Monday called on the authorities to probe taxes paid by Mados Sdn Bhd, a company believed to be linked to the Johor royalty.
Johor PKR chief Hassan Karim had also called for a truce between Dr Mahathir and the crown prince, urging the two to make use of the holy month of Ramadan to put an end to their public spat.