‘I told you so’ – Johor’s TMJ breaks his silence on politics

PETALING JAYA: The crown prince of Johor today ended his long silence in making public comments over political issues, saying he had foretold the problems plaguing the country two years ago.

But Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, saying he had been asked to “do something” in the wake of the coronavirus scare from China, said he was then told not to interfere in political affairs.

“I would like to inform and remind all of you, that in the last two years, there have been complaints sent to me daily on issues of administration, religion, race, economy and lately, on health.

“Two years ago, I gave my views but was advised by the people not to interfere. At that time, the people whom I had defended told me to shut up and not meddle in politics and governance.

“I was willing to be insulted and ridiculed in order to defend the sovereignty of the state of Johor and the people of this country,” Tunku Ismail, better known as TMJ, wrote on his Facebook today.

He was possibly referring to his veiled attack on Dr Mahathir Mohamad in the run-up to the general election in 2018, in which he warned voters not to change the government as things could still be fixed.

“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 had written then.

Tunku Ismail said he had predicted the current problems faced by the people.

“Today, I hope you have realised that what I had predicted two years ago is now happening,” he said.

His comments today are likely his first public comments critical of the country’s political leadership in more than seven months, after Mahathir labelled him “little boy” and “stupid” in May last year.

This followed a public spat between the two in the aftermath of Mahathir’s comments over the powers of the palace in the appointment of a new menteri besar, following the resignation of Osman Sapian in April last year.

Ties between Mahathir and the Johor palace have never been friendly since a constitutional amendment in the 1990s pushed by Mahathir to strip the rulers of their immunity from criminal prosecution.

But early last year, Mahathir met TMJ’s father, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, at Istana Bukit Serene, where the ruler made a rare gesture of hospitality by driving the 94-year-old to the airport in a first edition Proton Saga.

TMJ said despite being told not to delve into administrative matters, he would continue to do whatever he could “because that is the oath I had taken when I was installed as the Tunku Mahkota Johor”.