JOHOR BAHRU: While talks are rife that Johor Chief Minister Osman Sapian will be replaced, his office on Sunday (Apr 7) dismissed rumours that he is meeting Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in Putrajaya over his political future.
Mr Osman’s press secretary Abdul Hakim Ab Rahman was quoted as saying by The Star that the Monday meeting is to discuss preparations for the two-day Singapore-Malaysia Leaders’ Retreat taking place this week.
“Don’t believe the rumours,” he said.
Meanwhile, a New Straits Times report indicated that Mr Osman had agreed to resign, with a source describing that it is “the right thing to do”.
“His resignation will undoubtedly strengthen the state government and the Johor civil service and Bersatu in the state,” the source said.
Bersatu refers to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), a political party established in 2016 with Dr Mahathir as the national chairman. Mr Osman, who is also Kempas assemblyman, is Johor PPBM chief.
There has been speculation that Mr Osman will announce his resignation this week. Johor Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee chairman Sahruddin Jamal, who is from PPBM and State Youth, Sports and Culture Committee chairman Mohd Khuzzan Abu Bakar from Parti Keadilan Rakyat are said to be in the running to replace him, according to The Star.
When contacted, Mr Abdul Hakim said he had no knowledge over claims that Mr Osman had agreed to give up his post. “I have no idea about that,” he said.
Mr Osman, 67, was sworn-in as chief minister on May 12, 2018. He is also the State Natural Resources, Administration, Finance, Planning and Economic Development Committee chairman.
PAKATAN HARAPAN LEADERS UNHAPPY WITH CHIEF MINISTER
A source told New Straits Times that Pakatan Haparan leaders were unhappy over Mr Osman’s way of managing the state, including how he made policy announcements without discussing with state executive councillors.
Sources added that PPBM’s top brass was “not impressed” with the way Mr Osman handled the controversy surrounding his academic qualifications, adding that he took too long to clear the air.
In February, allegations surfaced over Mr Osman’s education background that he did not have a degree in accounting from Universiti Putra Malaysia as claimed. He admitted a few days later that he did not complete his studies at Kolej Pertanian Malaya (Agriculture College of Malaya).
Mr Osman also made headlines when he visited a Malaysian vessel anchored in Singapore waters amid a maritime dispute between the two countries in January.
READ: Singapore postpones joint ministerial committee talks on Iskandar after Johor chief minister's intrusion into its territorial waters
He also received flak for visiting Batam on a working trip instead of remaining in Johor to lead the Pasir Gudang chemical pollution crisis management.
He was most recently caught between the federal government and the Johor palace over a new shipping hub in the Johor Bahru port waters.
Dr Mahathir, who was criticised by Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim for not informing the state of the project, insisted that Mr Osman was in the loop. The prince later uploaded a voice clip of a man, purportedly Mr Osman, saying that he had not “received any news”.