JOHOR BARU, April 10 — Three names have surfaced as possible replacements for Datuk Osman Sapian but a source familiar with the matter said Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar has not consented to the former’s resignation yesterday.
The three are state excos Dr Sahruddin Jamal, Mohd Khuzzan Abu Bakar and Aminolhuda Hassan.
Bukit Kepong assemblyman Dr Sahruddin is from PPBM while Semerah representative Mohd Khuzzan and Parit Yaani state lawmaker Aminolhuda Hassan are from PKR and Amanah, respectively.
A poster with photographs of the three was shared on social media since late yesterday, with the title “Whoever is the candidate for Johor Mentri Besar must receive the consent of the Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar as stated in the Johor state constitution”.
A highly-placed source from the Johor palace said all three appeared suitable but any selection was contingent on the Johor sultan first consenting to Osman’s exit.
“From the names mentioned, all three are qualified for the post as they are currently serving as state executive councillors with their respective portfolios.
“However, Tuanku has yet to be officially briefed on the matter as he is currently abroad and will only return on Friday,” the source told Malay Mail today.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad confirmed Osman’s resignation while speaking in Parliament.
He was also reported as saying that Johor's next MB must come from his PPBM.
It was learnt later that Osman, also from PPBM, is on official leave from state matters until Saturday when he will have an audience with Sultan Ibrahim.
Osman, who is the Kempas assemblyman, has only served about 11 months as Johor MB since his appointment after the 14th general election when Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over the state from Barisan Nasional (BN).
The palace source also maintained that Osman’s resignation is not official until the Sultan consents, regardless of what Dr Mahathir says.
He further insisted it was the state ruler’s sole prerogative to select the mentri besar.
“Dr Mahathir’s announcement that the state’s new mentri besar must come from PPBM can be regarded as superseding the Sultan of Johor’s authority as the state’s sovereign ruler who has the absolute power to choose any candidate as enshrined in the Johor state constitution.
“According to procedures, the resignation of a mentri besar will also not be valid until the Sultan of Johor consents to it,” said the person familiar with Johor’s royal protocol and state’s legal procedures,
The source added Osman’s resignation must also be accompanied by the proposal of three candidates for the sultan’s consideration.
These must also come from among the state executive committee to ensure they are experienced and can execute the transition smoothly, the person added.
Speculation that Osman would be dropped as MB peaked yesterday with his absence from the Malaysia-Singapore Leaders' Retreat.
On the same day, Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim tweeted — ahead of the PM’s announcement — that Osman would be replaced following orders from Sultan Ibrahim, who had decreed months ago for a successor.
Tunku Ismail said it is his father’s absolute prerogative to appoint the MB and expressed hope for the new person to someone not subservient to the federal government but a who prioritised the welfare of the state and its residents.
In a later tweet, Tunku Ismail, who is commonly referred to as TMJ (the Malay initials for Tunku Mahkota Johor), also said he is ready to face any criminal action if he has made any seditious remarks.
The 34-year-old heir to the Johor throne was responding to a comment by Dr Mahathir that the royal was not above the law.