KUALA LUMPUR, June 15 — Datuk Mohamed Nazri Aziz declared tonight that he would not be cowed into submission by the Johor crown prince’s biting response to his criticism, saying he had as much right to voice his opinion as the royal does.
Acknowledging HRH Brigadier General Tunku Ismail Ibni Sultan Ibrahim’s reminder to him that he was “not a God from the heavens”, Nazri pointed out to the young prince that he had neither declared himself a God nor has masqueraded as one to the public.
“I want to reply to him that I never said that I’m God. I’m a Muslim and my God is Allah,” he told Malay Mail Online tonight.
“I am answerable to the rakyat and to the system. So I won’t back down. I believe that I am right,” he added.
Nazri went on to remind Tunku Ismail that in a constitutional monarchy like Malaysia’s, members of the royal family should not dabble in politics.
“The royalty is above politics. I don’t think that I’m wrong... we’ve practiced this system since Independence. Until and unless we change it, this is my position,” he said.
Nazri added that he would not have criticised the prince if the latter had not insinuated that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was guilty in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.
Explaining this, Nazri pointed out that Tunku Ismail had alleged that Najib had “everything to hide” when the latter commented on the prime minister’s no-show at the recent “Nothing To Hide” forum.
“Those were his offensive words. If Tunku Ismail had merely said – I am very upset that PM didn’t turn up because it was an opportunity for him to speak to the rakyat – that would have been fair comment.
“But when you say that he has everything to hide... that is detrimental. It is saying that PM is guilty of all those allegations against him,” Nazri said.
The Johor royal had on June 5 weighed in on the “Nothing To Hide” forum that was cancelled at the last minute before a face-to-face confrontation between Najib and his harshest critic Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad over the prime minister’s controversial 1MDB project.
In his comment then, Tunku Ismail had said that inviting someone who allegedly has “everything to hide” to such a dialogue session would obviously result in a no-show.
He also said that those entrusted with the responsibility to answer to issues of national interest should not lay blame on the public if they lose their support but should ponder the reasons for such a loss.
Nazri later told the crown prince to stay out of politics, and was quoted saying in a Malaysiakini report last Saturday that “we will whack him”.
Earlier today, Tunku Ismail issued a response on the Facebook page of the Johor Southern Tigers where he told Nazri that, “You are a minister, not a God from the heavens who lord above everybody”.
The royal also told Nazri that everyone has the right to voice their opinion although he said that this does not appear to be the case in Malaysia today as ministers here appear to think themselves “untouchable”.