KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 — Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar accused Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin today of trying to claim credit for Malaysia’s win against Singapore in the SEA Games polo tournament.
It is unclear as to what had prompted his salvo against the Umno Youth chief, but the Johor ruler took to Facebook to slam the federal minister, accusing him of ordering a player to fake injury so he could play at the last minute and appear as the leading man of the moment.
“Today they played against Singapore. When the team was already winning, he came on and asked the performing player to pretend to be injured,” Sultan Ibrahim wrote on the Johor Southern Tigers Facebook page, the official page of the state’s main football club Johor Darul Takzim.
“So there’s a photo of him in the team to be featured in the print media and spread the propaganda to cheat people as if he was victorious and reliable,” he added.
This is the first time the Johor sultan publicly blasted Khairy, who had also been the subject of criticism by his son and Crown Prince, Tunku Ismail Idris.
Tunku Ismail had repeatedly labelled Khairy an opportunist, claiming the Umno leader to be a manipulative politician who used sports to boost his own popularity.
Khairy is the first ever Malaysian minister to compete as a professional athlete in the SEA Games tournament, leading the country’s first ever polo team.
But the Johor ruler suggested that the current polo team was mediocre and that its winning streak was only due to the poor standards of the teams competing in tournament.
To measure the national team’s true strength, Sultan Ibrahim has challenged Khairy and his men to a game against his two sons and the state’s polo team. The Johor ruler, now 58, had also expressed the willingness to play for the Johor side.
“The polo teams competing in the 2017 SEA Games are merely meeting the necessary conditions set forth by the games committee.
“There are some that have come with lower handicap thus making it easy to be defeated. I challenge the SEA Games polo team to come to Johor and show your fangs since news of your greatness supersedes you,” he wrote.
The Johor ruler also said he would readily admit that the national polo team is good if the Johor team is defeated.
“I’d like to extend the invitation to the the Youth and Sports Minister and hopefully he won’t disappoint the requests of the people to see your team defeat the Johor team.
“I will send 2 of my sons and 2 of our horse trainers or perhaps myself, as I believe I still have what it takes. Should my team lose, I will admit that the SEA Games team are represented by the best there is,” he said.
Polo, a game usually reserved for aristocrats, was first played and introduced in Johor since 1884.
This year’s edition of the SEA Games tournament is the first to have polo as part of its fixture.
Sultan Ibrahim claimed he had once represented Malaysia in the polo World Cup and that Johor had been at the forefront in the sport.
“Polo in Johor did not start yesterday. Polo was first played and introduced in Johor since 1884. When I was the Crown Prince, I was already playing around the world and even played in the World Cup. Hence, the SEA Games is almost insignificant in comparison. If you want a more competitive match, do come to Johor”.
Khairy could not be reached for comments.