PETALING JAYA: Malaysia should revive the high-speed rail (HSR) link project with Singapore, Johor’s Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar said.
In an interview he gave to Singapore’s The Sunday Times, the next Yang di-Pertuan Agong said he hoped the rail project would be realigned to run through Forest City, a controversial property development fronting the Straits of Johor comprising four artificial islands on reclaimed land, spanning 30 sq km.
“I will make it (come back) on,” he said, adding that the HSR could be funded through a private finance initiative in which the government pays the contractor to operate the line on a 30-year lease.
The government has said it is open to reviving the RM100 billion project if it could find private investors.
Meanwhile, Sultan Ibrahim’s interests extend beyond infrastructure. He said he would like to see the judiciary and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission report to the throne, not the government.
He will also do away with the traditional Federal Territories Day awards, saying he would like to review potential recipients himself.
“Give me time. This is on my second day in office on Feb 1,” said Sultan Ibrahim, who will take office on Jan 31.
“Let me see the paper three months down the road and why this person should be appointed. What’s the criteria here?”
The sultan would face a number of constitutional hurdles seeing these to fruition, The Sunday Times said, but royal influence has been growing in recent years and Sultan Ibrahim said he did not want to be seen as a “puppet king”.
Sultan Ibrahim also spoke of his decision to appoint Onn Hafiz menteri besar in 2022 and his dislike of being pushed into making a decision.
“They made a mistake. Hasni Mohammed was made to be a poster boy, and all of them signed declarations supporting him.
“You push me to the wall? Within our constitution, the only person who can decide on the menteri besar is the sultan. That’s why I changed it and shocked everybody,” he said, adding that as the king, his priority will be Malaysia’s citizens, not MPs.
“There are 222 of you in Parliament. There are more than 30 million outside. I’m not with you, I’m with them.
“What I tell the prime minister, I make sure it goes out – the whole country will know. Either he works with me closely or things will get difficult,” he said.
However, Sultan Ibrahim said Anwar Ibrahim should be allowed to prove himself.
“I don’t think you can change the country in one year. I think there are good ministers, like (transport minister) Loke Siew Fook.
“I will support the government, but if I think they are doing something improper, I will tell them,” he said.
He said he will also target corruption.
“People contribute hundreds of millions before elections. How do you pay them back? Giving them mega projects. That’s not going to be the case the moment I’m there. Too bad, who asked you to give?
“From my great-grandfather, we were great hunters. I make sure when I go hunting, I bring back nice game, but when I’m in KL, it’s a concrete jungle, so what do I hunt? I’m going to hunt all the corrupt people. I make sure I bring results,” he said, adding that MACC should report directly to the king.
Similarly, he suggested that judicial appointments must “be separated from the executive”.
“We only get the list (from the prime minister’s office) during the Conference of Rulers. Why don’t you bring the name down (to us) before you appoint? We are not a rubber stamp,” he said.