PETALING JAYA: Johor Menteri Besar Osman Sapian is in the media spotlight amid speculation about his political future, hours before he has a meeting with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Putrajaya on government business.
The speculation comes as Putrajaya deals with tense relationships with the Johor royal family, and difficulties with Singapore over aviation and marine rights, territorial waters, supply of raw water, and cross-border traffic congestion.
Osman’s own activities have also strained his relationship with the federal government and party leaders.
A high-ranking leader of PPBM told FMT that nothing had been said at the party level about Osman getting replaced.
Any changes would most likely be discussed at the Pakatan Harapan presidential council.
“But I won’t be surprised, the MB is supposed to be the link between the government and royalty and Osman hasn’t been doing that,” he told FMT.
There was also unhappiness over questions raised about Osman’s academic qualifications and his handling of several issues in the state.
Osman’s press secretary, Abdul Hakim Abdul Rahman, confirmed that the menteri besar was on a working visit to Kuala Lumpur to prepare for the Singapore-Malaysia Leaders’ Retreat which is scheduled to be held in Putrajaya on Tuesday.
Abdul Hakim said in a text message that “it is normal for a preparatory meeting to be held before a major meeting”, explaining why Osman was in the federal capital.
He urged the media not to be taken in by “nonsensical rumours”, saying that there were people trying to make use of the circumstances for their personal and political interest.
Osman has been at the centre of several controversial matters.
In January, Osman came under criticism for a visit to a Malaysian government vessel in the waters off Tuas that sparked a diplomatic protest from Singapore about encroachment of territorial waters.
Last month, the chemical pollution at Sg Kim Kim affected almost 2,000 people in Pasir Gudang and saw the temporary closure of schools.
Relations between the federal government and the Johor royal family reached a new point of tension last week when the royal family protested against Malaysia’s accession to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and also a federal government project for a ship-to-ship transfer hub in the waters off Johor.