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Johor has every right to secede from M’sia: Crown Prince

KUALA LUMPUR/SINGAPORE — The Crown Prince of Johor warned in an interview published today (Oct 16) that the state has every right to secede from Malaysia if it finds a breach to the terms agreed upon its membership to the Federation of Malaysia.

Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim says that his views might be seen as instigating state-based sentiments, but his main concern was the people of Johor. Photo: The Malaysian Insider

Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim says that his views might be seen as instigating state-based sentiments, but his main concern was the people of Johor. Photo: The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR/SINGAPORE —  The Crown Prince of Johor warned in an interview published today (Oct 16) that the state has every right to secede from Malaysia if it finds a breach to the terms agreed upon its membership to the Federation of Malaysia. 

In the interview, published by a local football portal, FourthOfficial, Crown Prince Ismail Sultan Ibrahim said that as the future Sultan of Johor, his responsibilities would always go to the state first and its people before Malaysia.

“In fact, we only joined the Federation of Malaya, upon both parties agreeing to several basic terms. And if any one of those terms are breached, we have every right to secede from this country,” said Mr Ismail, adding that the Johor royal family should not be associated with “the mess” currently affecting the country.

“You can accuse me of instigating state-based sentiments but, to me, I’m merely doing my duty to the people of Johor, and reminding them of the history and heritage behind this great land.” 

The interview was also reposted in both English and Malay on the official Facebook page of the state football club Johor Southern Tigers, which Mr Ismail heads.

Four months ago, the Crown Prince’s younger brother Idris Sultan Ibrahim had also posted a warning on Instagram that the southern state may secede from Malaysia if the conditions upon which Johor had joined the Malaysian Federation are violated.

In the post, which was later deleted, Mr Idris issued a reminder that the Johor government had joined the Malay Federation in 1946 on several conditions.

Among the conditions listed were: making Islam the religion of the state, the state’s absolute right over water and land issues, and the state royal house to have its own armed forces.

Mr Ismail has been a vocal critic of Putrajaya, particularly against Prime Minister Najib Razak and the Premier’s handling of troubled state investment firm, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

In June, the Crown Prince was embroiled in a public spat with Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz after the Minister reportedly told the Johor Crown Prince to stay out of politics or Putrajaya will “whack” him.

At the time, Mr Ismail had criticised Mr Najib — who had failed to show up at a civil-society event where he was scheduled to publicly discuss the failings of state investment vehicle 1MDB, which has reportedly amassed a RM42 billion (S$14 billion) debt pile.

The spat between the royal and Putrajaya was then followed by the Wall Street Journal’s (WSJ) report that up to RM2.6 billion was deposited from 1MDB-linked companies into Mr Najib’s personal bank accounts, two months before the 2013 general election.

Investigations by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) — which was part of a special task force set up to look into the WSJ’s allegations — later confirmed that the money had been deposited into Mr Najib’s accounts, but stated that the money was a political donation from the Middle East, and not from 1Malaysia Development Berhad, as previously alleged.

Speaking to TODAY, senior fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Dr Oh Ei Sun, suggested that Mr Ismail’s criticisms stemmed not just from the Crown Prince’s unhappiness over the controversies surrounding Mr Najib, but also an attempt at reasserting royal prerogatives, which were taken away first by the British and then after Independence.

Dr Oh pointed out that despite the royal’s comments, the Johor royal family does not really intend upon secession from the Malaysian Federation.

“Just that by so claiming (to secede from the Federation), they hope to obtain lesser demands, such as perhaps more economic independence,” Dr Oh said.

He added that Mr Najib could heal the rift with the Johor royal family by “granting more true autonomy … to the various states”, and not just the appointment of more locals to fill local federal positions. AGENCIES

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