PUTRAJAYA, May 6 — Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Ibrahim is a “little boy” and should not talk publicly about matters when he may not have full knowledge about them, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said in a media interview today.
The prime minister at first refused to comment on Johor’s Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar and the Malay Ruler’s relationship with the Pakatan Harapan state government, but did not hold his tongue when it comes to the prince known with the moniker TMJ, or Tengku Mahkota Johor.
“This TMJ is a little boy,” Dr Mahathir told the press in a group interview ahead of his government’s first-year anniversary on May 9.
“He is stupid, because he doesn’t know what is happening. So don’t talk when you don’t know anything. Don’t talk,” the PM said.
The row between the two worsened after the resignation of Datuk Osman Sapian as the state mentri besar and Putrajaya’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute, which led to a public tiff on the powers of state rulers as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
Last month, Tunku Ismail told outsiders to stay out of Johor’s affairs and even stated that the people need to change the prime minister.
Reacting to this, 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 could only be changed by public vote in a democracy.
Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof also said previously that if Johor’s royalty want the people’s respect and acceptance, then they must know their role as state’s ruler and not interfere in the country’s administration.
Dr Mahathir had said before that Tunku Ismail is free to state his opinions so long as his remarks are within the law.
The PM said the government took note of Tunku Ismail and his views similarly to how it would give attention to any ordinary Malaysian.
The crown prince is a noted critic of Pakatan Harapan and, prior to the 14th general election, appeared to stump for Barisan Nasional by urging voters to change a country’s fate and improving the system by changing it from the inside instead of bringing down a government.
Similarly, Dr Mahathir has a history of disagreements with the Malay Rulers, notably during his first stint as prime minister from 1981 to 2003.