Johor ruler mocks ‘senile’ leader over ties with former foes


PETALING JAYA: The war of words between the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, and former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad seems far from over, with the ruler today firing a salvo at a leader who was “forgetful or senile”.

In his speech at an event today, Sultan Ibrahim didn’t mention any names but spoke of a leader who wasn’t from Johor but was trying to “be clever” by telling Johoreans, who have been living in peace and harmony for years, what they should do.

“In the past, he said the opposition was the sworn enemy but today he can sit at the same table with them and become close friends. In the past, he said western media liked to fabricate stories but now he says western media reports are based on facts.

“In the past, he criticised Malays for being a race that forgets easily but today he shows that he himself is forgetful. If he is not forgetful, maybe he is a little senile because of his age,” he said when opening a gallery in honour of the heroes of Bukit Kepong during the Emergency.

Mahathir, 91, is known for his “Melayu mudah lupa” (“Malays forget easily”) catchphrase. He had written a book with the same title, published in 2001.

Previously, Mahathir, who is Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chairman, had criticised projects by developers from China in the state, particularly the Forest City project in Iskandar Malaysia.

Mahathir claimed that 700,000 Chinese nationals would move to Johor and change the state’s political landscape.

Subsequently, Sultan Ibrahim said he was “hurt” by the claims and said Mahathir was playing the “politics of fear and race”.

In his speech today, Sultan Ibrahim vowed to defend Johor’s sovereignty.

“I hope the people will be with me … since I was young, I was taught to protect Johor. I know what is best for my state and I won’t wrong my own people.”

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