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KUALA LUMPUR, May 1 — The Raja Permaisuri of Johor, Raja Zarith Sofiah Sultan Idris Shah has come to the defence of her son, Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, following a deepening row with Putrajaya.
In a Facebook post, Raja Zarith Sofiah said she cannot bear to see Tunku Ismail being lambasted by a multitude of parties over his comments that his father, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, has absolute authority to choose the state’s mentri besar.
“As a mother who had excruciatingly witnessed one of her children drawing his last breath and subsequently laid to rest, then it is not wrong for me to feel distressed to see one of my children being insulted, ridiculed and become an item of entertainment for those who think they are smarter and have never committed any wrongdoing.
“To these people, I pray that Allah bless them with his divine help and guidance,” she said.
In response to Raja Zarith Sofiah’s post, Tunku Ismail comforted his mother, stating that God will always protect the Johor Sultan.
“Don’t worry Mama. Everything is going to be alright. No matter how dark the storm may be, there will always be sunlight. I Promise you. Allah Peliharakan Sultan,” he said in a Facebook posting.
However, the row had deepened following the resignation of Datuk Osman Sapian as the state Mentri Besar last month which led to a public tiff between Tunku Ismail, who is also known as TMJ, and Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on the powers of the state ruler as enshrined under the Federal Constitution.
On Saturday, Tunku Ismail had told outsiders to stay out of Johor’s affairs and had even stated that the people need to change the prime minister.
In a recently viral video, the Tunku Mahkota Johor was seen leaving the Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Hassan Yunos Stadium in Larkin, Johor, after football club Johor Darul Ta’zim’s 0-1 defeat to Shandong Luneng in the AFC Champions League last Wednesday night.
Some of the fans chanted “Hidup TMJ” (long live TMJ, in reference to Tunku Ismail’s title) but one shouted “change Mora”, referring to the football team’s coach Benjamin Mora.
Tunku Ismail’s vehicle suddenly stopped and the crown prince stuck his head out of the window and said: “Instead of changing Mora, it’s better to change the prime minister”.
Reacting to his comments, Dr Mahathir noted that ascension to the throne is not cast in stone for the heir-designate even as he pointed out that prime ministers can only be changed by public vote in a democracy.
“We need to remember the past when a crown prince had to abdicate and the position was given to his younger brother. That’s the crown prince, a crown prince can be changed. Only the people can change the prime minister, not just anybody or someone who thinks he is big,” he said.
On Monday, Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof said if the Johor royalty wanted respect and acceptance from the people, they must know their role as state ruler and not interfere in the country’s administration
In a comment that appears to be directed at Tunku Ismail, he said: “The one doing all the talking is a young person. He has to know what happened in the past and understand that people today want an administration based on the country’s Constitution.
“My advice to those who don’t agree with today’s Constitution, they have to open the book and learn (it) properly all over again,” he said when asked to comment on the disagreement between the Johor royalty and Putrajaya.
Since May 9, the relationship between the Johor Royal family and the PH administration had soured.