JOHOR BAHRU: The Sultan of Johor Ibrahim Iskandar on Wednesday (Apr 10) hit out at what he believed was interference in the southern state’s affairs, amid a lack of consensus over the nomination process for a new chief minister following the resignation of Mr Osman Sapian.
The ruler's remarks came after Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said the appointment of a new chief minister will be decided by the party which won the elections and not the royal family.
In a Facebook post, the sultan said that he is out of the country but following developments closely.
“I want certain parties to stop making so much noise and quarrel about politics, and to focus on taking care of the country instead,” he wrote.
He added: “As for Johor, don’t meddle in the state’s affairs because this sovereign state still has a sultan.”
“I will make the best decision for my people when the time comes.”
This drew a sharp response from the prime minister.
“I am of the opinion that if we assume that those who chose PMs and chief ministers were the monarchs, we will no longer be a democratic country anymore," Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying by Malay Mail.
“We would be a country with an absolute monarchy."
Earlier in the day, he said the government hopes to appoint an acting chief minister as soon as possible.
“We have to decide on the candidate. There are several candidates ... it will take a little bit of time but very quickly we will find (the individual),” he said.
"The Sultan (of Johor) has got no role. The role is for the party that won the election to determine who leads."
Mr Osman resigned on Monday. An earlier report by New Straits Times quoted sources saying that Pakatan Harapan leaders were not satisfied with his performance as the state’s chief minister.
Leaders from his own party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, were also said to be unimpressed with how he handled the controversy surrounding his academic qualifications.
READ: Johor Chief Minister admits he does not have a degree, apologises to Malaysians for ‘misunderstanding’
On Tuesday, Crown Prince Ismail Sultan Ibrahim wrote on Twitter that it was his father who gave the order to change the top man in the state.
“His Majesty has looked into changing the chief minister since months ago. Don’t forget, the power to appoint the chief minister is the sultan’s absolute right,” he said.
The crown prince said he hoped the new chief minister would not be a mere “yes-man” to Putrajaya.
READ: Johor crown prince free to criticise the government, but 'he is not above the law', says Mahathir
READ: From patrol policeman to royal bodyguard: How a Singaporean came to protect the Johor crown prince
SULTAN HAS RIGHT TO APPOINT NEW CHIEF MINISTER: LAWYER
Mr Ahmad Solehin Abd Ghani, a lawyer, noted that the sultan has the right to appoint a new chief minister.
In a Facebook post which was shared by the crown prince, the lawyer noted: "Under Undang-undang Tubuh Negeri Johor (state constitution), Item 3 (1), it is stated that the sultan has the absolute right in appointing the Mentri Besar ... In the issue of appointing, His Majesty does not have to act on advice from any quarters.”
"However, through 'convention', parties that won would send several names as Mentri Besar candidate to (the) Johor sultan for His Majesty's consideration where, in this matter, Pakatan Harapan should send the names," he was quoted as saying by The Star.
The lawyer added that the sultan would review the candidates and if they were appointed, he must agree to it.
"If the candidates that are sent are not agreed to by His Majesty, then the party must send another list to the Johor sultan until an agreement is reached to appoint the candidate as the Mentri Besar.”