JOHOR BARU - Dr Sahruddin Jamal, a Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) assemblyman representing the seat of Bukit Kepong, was sworn in to replace Datuk Osman Sapian as the state's 17th Menteri Besar on Sunday (April 14), The Star reported.
Dr Sahruddin, who is also state Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee chairman, took his oath of office before Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar at Istana Bukit Serene.
The 43-year-old was pictured receiving his appointment letter at the royal palace in a post on Sultan Ibrahim's official Facebook page on Sunday.
Also present at the ceremony was the Crown Prince of Johor, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, and the Sultan's son-in-law, Datuk Dennis Muhammad Abdullah. Mr Osman and state leaders from the four-party Pakatan Harapan ruling coalition, of which his PPBM party is also a member, also attended the ceremony.
Dr Sahruddin had replaced Mr Osman, whose resignation was announced by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on April 9, just 11 months after the PH alliance stormed to power in the state that was the stronghold of Umno.
After being sworn in, Dr Sahruddin was seen hugging Mr Osman to thank him for his service and advice.
Dr Sahruddin won the Bukit Kepong seat at the country's general election on May 9 last year after defeating Umno's Mohd Noor Taib and Parti Islam SeMalaysia's Mohamad Nur Iqbal Abd Razak by a slim majority of 1,273 votes.
He has a medical degree from Hasanuddin University in Makassar, Indonesia, and operated his own clinic in Johor prior to entering politics, the Bernama news agency reported.
Dr Sahruddin later told reporters the state would have a new executive council lineup soon and that he has 14 days to make the appointment. But he was coy about who he was eyeing to take up the positions.
There are currently 10 state executive councillors, including two each from the PPBM, Parti Amanah Negara and Parti Keadilan Rakyat as well as four from the Democratic Action Party.
Speculation over Dr Sahruddin's possible appointment as the state's next Menteri Besar mounted last week after Mr Osman's absence from the Singapore-Malaysia 9th bilateral Leaders' Retreat in Putrajaya on April 9. Dr Sahruddin had served as Mr Osman's official representative at the leaders' retreat.
Following Dr Mahathir's announcement of Mr Osman's resignation, Tunku Ismail tweeted that his father, the Johor ruler, had wanted to replace Mr Osman for some "months".
Mr Osman's departure came amid building tensions between Dr Mahathir and Sultan Ibrahim in recent weeks, with both claiming to have the right to appoint the next Menteri Besar.
Dr Mahathir's decision to replace Mr Osman followed an announcement of the federal government's plans recently to develop a ship-to-ship transfer hub in Johor Baru port waters, according to PH sources. Tunku Ismail and Mr Osman had both claimed they were unaware of the multi-million-dollar hub project.
Mr Osman in a press conference on Saturday said he had resigned on his own accord. But he stopped short of explaining why he wanted to leave the post, saying "everyone knew and I do not need to elaborate further”.
Mr Osman, whose 11-month tenure as Menteri Besar, is the shortest ever in the state, appeared cheerful when he held the press conference after earlier meeting Sultan Ibrahim to thank the Ruler for his advice and guidance.
On Sunday, he told reporters that he would continue to serve his constituents as Kempas assemblyman as he had about four more years to serve.