PETALING JAYA: Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim has launched a veiled attack on Dr Mahathir Mohamad, as the Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman makes a tour of the state ahead of the general election.
Without naming Mahathir, the crown prince popularly known as Tunku Mahkota Johor (TMJ) said the former prime minister was responsible for stripping the powers of the Sultan, in an apparent reference to the constitutional amendments of the 1990s.
“Do not be easily manipulated into believing whatever you heard last night in Pasir Gudang,” he wrote on his Facebook page tonight, referring to PH’s rally yesterday where Mahathir announced the coalition’s decision to use the PKR logo at the coming polls.
“Johor state will never forget that individual who tried to disband the Johor Military Force (JMF), an organisation that has stood since 1886 and that same time, dreaming of diminishing the Sultan’s power, belittling our constitution that has been here since before the inception of the country called Malaysia.”
Mahathir had in 1992 engineered a campaign to remove the Malay rulers’ immunity under the law, following a controversy involving a hockey coach and the then Johor ruler, Sultan Iskandar Sultan Ismail, the father of the present ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, and TMJ’s grandfather.
The following year, after an intense media campaign led by Mahathir, Parliament passed amendments to remove legal immunity of the Malay rulers.
Sultan Ibrahim is one of two Malay rulers who have openly criticised Mahathir, the other being the Sultan of Selangor.
The Johor ruler is unhappy with, among other things, Mahathir’s opposition to the Forest City project near Johor Bahru.
TMJ in his post also recalled his childhood memories at the height of the crisis between Mahathir and the Johor palace.
“I won’t forget the year 1992. Back then I was a small and naughty kid in school. My teachers would say, ‘Do not play the fool, you are royalty, if I were to report you to Mahathir, you are done for’.”
TMJ said he was aware that “people are discouraged by the leadership of the country”, but added that problems could be fixed if Johoreans allowed their sultan to address problems in Umno, saying it was a party formed in Johor, “in a Johor’s state palace to be exact”.
“Don’t change the boat if the engine is not broken, don’t even change the skipper but allow HM The Sultan of Johor and I to work with the skipper. Change what needs to be changed and upgrade what needs upgrading for the sake of our beloved country,” he said.
“In my view, Umno needs to have more assets than liabilities. It means Umno needs to revamp the way it governs, change the way it thinks and it’s policy,” he wrote in the post, which he said was his “honest” and “personal opinion”.
TMJ said Johoreans should not be “fooled by a forked tongue individual”.
“At the moment he is not trying to save the country, he is more worried of what will happen to his children in the future. Even the wealthiest person on earth would not be able to give birth to three ‘billionaires’.
“My advice to the people of Johor is, if you have a problem with the government then raise your voice and let them know what you want. All of you have me and HM Sultan of Johor to convey the peoples voice to the highest leadership in the country.
“Never for once think that we have no initiative to fix the system within the government.”