Malaysia and Johor: The Sultan of Johor, “For the people’s sake, let us set aside differences…”

25 April 2019


KUALA LUMPUR, April 25 — Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar must stop interfering in the Johor state government to show the sincerity of his call today for civil discourse, said Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

The PPBM president said he appreciated the sultan’s gesture but added that the Johor palace must also admit to its role in the hostilities with Putrajaya, according to The Star.

“As a Johorean, as a federal minister in the Cabinet, this does not put me at ease at all.

“We must be bold enough. The sultan also has to agree that certain things have been done by him that created some feelings of uneasiness when it comes to matters of state.

“That has to stop. It is not that he cannot interfere in the management of the state, but interfering in the running of the governance of the state must not be continued,” he was quoted as saying.

He added the dispute did not involve personal sentiments, before advising Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Sahruddin Jamal to meet with the sultan and lay out how the state should be governed from now on.

Earlier today, the sultan said he wants those involved in the recent disagreement between the Johor and federal governments to put aside their differences for the well-being of the people.

On Monday, Dr Sahruddin announced his new exco lineup that included three new names despite the federal Cabinet’s understanding that the previous officials would be retained despite the sultan’s demand for a reshuffle.

This caught Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad by surprise as he publicly insisted the sultan had no say in the matter, just ahead of the Johor MB’s announcement.

Yesterday, Dr Mahathir also penned a personal blog entry that appeared to centre on the dispute in Johor, saying state constitutions that predate the Federal Constitution were effectively overwritten by the latter.

He said this meant state rulers should adhere to the winning party’s candidates for appointments rather than dictate their choices.

Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim responded by posting excerpts from the Federal Constitution to suggest otherwise.



Negeri Johor baru sahaja menyempurnakan pelantikan Menteri Besar dan barisan Ahli Majlis Mesyuarat Kerajaan Negeri (EXCO).

Saya harap selepas ini tumpuan akan diberikan kepada ikhtiar membangun dan memajukan Johor. Justeru, kepimpinan baru harus bersatu hati dan melipat gandakan usaha agar kebajikan serta kepentingan rakyat Johor ditambah baik dan sentiasa terbela.

Pada masa yang sama, saya harap semua pihak dapat memberi kerjasama penuh agar pentadbiran dan pengurusan negeri Johor berjalan lancar.

Atas sebab itu juga, sekiranya ada sebarang perselisihan atau salah faham, terutamanya yang melibatkan hubungan antara Negeri Johor dan Kerajaan Pusat, saya sarankan kita ketepikan sebarang perbezaan. Sebaliknya, eloklah berjumpa dan saling berbincang dengan matang demi kebaikan semua, khususnya rakyat.

Bersama-samalah kita doakan kesejahteraan dan kemajuan negeri Johor.


(25 APRIL 2019)



Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar appears to have offered an olive branch to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

In a Facebook posting this afternoon, the monarch suggested that discussions be held to iron out the problems.

“If there are disagreements or misunderstandings, especially involving the relationship between the state of Johor and the federal government, I suggest we set aside any differences.

“On the contrary, it would be better to meet and discuss in a mature manner for the good of all, especially the people,” he added.


Constitutional expert Shad Saleem Faruqi (above) has weighed into the debate between Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, pointing out that the time when monarchs possessed absolute power had passed.

However, the Universiti Malaya emeritus law professor noted how some, including scholars, were still dwelling in this bygone era.

“We are a constitutional monarchy, not an absolute monarchy. There are people who are talking about ‘kuasa mutlak‘ (absolute power). There is no ‘kuasa mutlak‘ anymore,” he told Malaysiakini.

Shad Saleem also pointed out that Malaysian states are not sovereign, but “units of the federation” that are subject to one Federal Constitution.

“So, all this talk of state sovereignty is more (about) politics than law,” he added.

Although he said Mahathir might have “overstated” his latest claim that the Johor and Terengganu state constitutions were nullified with the formation of the Federation of Malaya, he, however, agreed with the prime minister on the supremacy of the Federal Constitution.

‘Void to the extent of inconsistency’

He explained that provisions in state law, and not the entire document, were void only if they contradicted the Federal Constitution.

“In essence, the prime minister’s stand is correct, but he overstated the case that the (state) constitution are nullified.

“We have to bear this in mind, he is a doctor, he is not a law graduate. So, I don’t think he should be [judged] by the standard of a lawyer,” he added.

Shad Saleem cited Articles 4 (1) and 162 (6) of the Federal Constitution, which stipulates that the document is the supreme law of the country and how every inconsistent law was “void” and needed to be fixed.

Should a state law not be in line with the Federal Constitution, he said, Article 71 (4) stated that the Dewan Rakyat had the power to change it.

“That means if the state constitution is either violating the federal constitution or if the state constitution has gaps, the federal parliament can enter the picture by ordinary law at the federal level and amend the state constitution to ensure compliance with the federal constitution,” he added.

Federal provisions for state constitutions

Shad Saleem also drew attention to the Eighth Schedule of the Federal Constitution, which contains a list of provisions for state constitutions.

Among the provisions were that monarchs are to act on the advice of the state’s executive branch of government, namely the menteri besar and the executive council.

“The appointment of the executive council is on the advice of the menteri besar, it is not the discretion of the sultan,” he added.

Meanwhile, lawyer New Sin Yew also agreed with Shad Saleem regarding Mahathir’s use of the term “nullified”.

“I am not sure if ‘nullified’ is the right word to use. The Johor and Terrenganu state constitutions are still there though with significant changes post-independence,” he told Malaysiakini.

Johor’s constitution was established in 1895, while Terengganu’s constitution was drawn up in 1911.

However, he said the prime minister was correct in stating that the Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the land.

“It is important that everyone concerned respects the constitution and abides by it. Failure to do so would negate the rule of law,” he added.

Rulers used to preside exco meetings

Before Aug 31, 1957, New said state constitutions contained provisions where the ruler presided over an executive council.

He added that the ruler was advised by an executive council and by a council of state which the menteri besar presided over.

“The menteri besar was appointed and is responsible to the ruler. The ruler had the power to overrule the executive council and the council of state. In this sense, rulers pre-Merdeka were not constitutional rulers.

“However, this changed at independence,” he noted.

When the Federal Constitution came into force on Aug 31, 1957, New said all states including Johor and Terengganu were required to bring their respective state constitutions in line with the Federal Constitution.

“Article 71 of the Federal Constitution requires state constitutions to contain essential provisions as set out in Part I of the Eighth Schedule. Among the essential provisions are: ruler to act on advice, proceedings against the ruler, the executive council, and the legislature of the state.

“The purpose of Article 71 is to transform the role of the rulers into constitutional rulers who have limited powers and are bound to accept and act on the advice of the menteri besar or executive council.

“If a state constitution does not contain the essential provisions or if a state constitution contains provisions which are inconsistent with the essential provisions, Parliament may make law to give effect in that state to the essential provisions or to remove the inconsistent provisions in the state constitution.

“As a result, that all states must have the necessary amendments to their state constitutions post-independence. All state constitutions now contain essential provisions and all rulers are now constitutional rulers,” he added.

New said this was the bargain struck at independence and with the agreement of all rulers where a system of constitutional government would be introduced.

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – Newly-minted Johor Menteri Besar Sahruddin Jamal has barely had time to work with his new executive council line-up, a selection allegedly influenced by the palace, before Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad sent a subtle shot across the bow.

He reminded everyone that it is the government that has the last say on who is MB, not the constitutional monarchs.

In a posting on his blog on Wednesday (April 24) titled “The Malaysian Constitution”, Tun Dr Mahathir said that the Federal Constitution reigns supreme and no one can violate the rule of law.

The posting is believed to be a veiled warning to those who interfere with executive appointments by the government of the day.

In an apparent response, Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim posted excerpts of the Federal Constitution on the rights and powers of Rulers on his Facebook page.

He posted Article 71.(1) which states that the “Federation shall guarantee the right of a Ruler of a State to succeed and to hold, enjoy and exercise the constitutional rights and privileges of Ruler of that State”.

The Article also states that any dispute as to the title to the succession as Ruler of any state shall be determined solely by such authorities and in such manner as may be provided by the Constitution of that state.

On Monday night, at a hastily convened Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia meeting, top party leaders said that Dr Mahathir felt slighted by how the new Johor executive committee (exco) line-up was selected.

“He had told Bersatu leaders that there would be no change in the Johor exco despite the appointment of the new MB.

“He then threatened to resign as prime minister, to which all of us unanimously protested,” said a party leader who asked not to be named.

Earlier that day, Datuk Sahruddin announced three new faces in the exco line-up, saying that he needed people he could work with.

The three new exco members were Jementah assemblyman Tan Chen Choon from the Democratic Action Party, Tenang assemblyman Mohd Solihan Badri and Bukit Permai assemblyman Tosrin Jarvanthi from Bersatu.

Former Johor MB Osman Sapian, who tendered his resignation to the Prime Minister on April 8, had said that Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar had wanted a change in the exco line-up.

In his blog posting, Dr Mahathir recalled the rise of the Malays against the Malayan Union by the British colonisers, forcing them to replace it with the Federation of Malaya.

“It was agreed that Malaya would be a democracy where the people would choose the government.

“The rulers would be constitutional heads without executive power. Their position would be guaranteed by the Constitution, which would be the supreme law of the country.

“The party winning the election would name the Prime Minister (or the Chief Minister – Menteri Besar) and the constitutional head would endorse (it).

“Should the constitutional monarch refuse to endorse and proposes his own candidate and endorses him, the winning party can reject him in the assembly – ‘dewan’, through a vote of no confidence.

“The constitutions of Johor and Terengganu which were promulgated earlier were nullified by the new constitution which was accepted by all the states of Malaysia.

“Accordingly on May 9, 2018, the people of Malaysia went to the polls to elect the governments of (the Federation) Malaysia and the governments of the states.

“It is important that everyone concerned respects the Constitution and abide by it. Failure to do so would negate the rule of law,” said Dr Mahathir.

On the Bersatu special meeting on Monday night, Bersatu leaders also refuted speculation that there was tension between Dr Mahathir and Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin.

“It is not true that they say that Dr Mahathir and Muhyiddin are locking heads over the Johor exco line-up and that there is a tussle between the two,” said the party source.

The source further said that Dr Mahathir sometimes tends to fall back into his “old 1980s mode” when, as the fourth prime minister, he had the last say on everything.

“Muhyiddin had agreed to the changes after consulting the Sultan of Johor and Dr Sahruddin, as he wanted to cushion the strong stance Dr Mahathir seems to have taken against the royalty,” said the source.

The source was referring to Dr Mahathir having been upset over the recent forced retraction of Malaysia’s ratification of the United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Rome Statute.

The Rome Statute covers the International Criminal Court, which seeks to prosecute those guilty of serious crimes like genocide when their governments are unable or unwilling to do so.

The Malay Rulers had opposed Malaysia’s ratification of the Rome Statute, citing interference in their sovereignty.

The Bersatu source further pointed out that Johor is Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s territory as he was the MB there for some years and knows how to deal with the Johor Palace.

“Muhyiddin is the man who set up Bersatu but he has always been the one standing two steps behind Dr Mahathir. There is no doubting his loyalty to the premier, despite his correspondence with the Palace,” said the source.

Another source, who was present at the special meeting on Monday night, said that Dr Mahathir did offer to step down if “no one wants to listen to him”.

“There was no drama. He just said it as a slighted old man would, when he is sidelined.

“Of course there are some ‘moles’ out to destabilise the party but those who are creating a storm in the teacup over last Monday’s meeting are merely singing the song in the background of a Hindi movie to further dramatise it,” alleged the source.

Surendran: Federal Constitution cannot be disregarded with impunity

The federal government is “duty-bound” to enforce the Federal Constitution, and can even legislate to “bring the state to order” and remove contradictory provisions in state constitutions.

Citing several articles of the Federal Constitution, human rights lawyer N Surendran said Putrajaya can invoke article 71(3) of the constitution in cases where provisions on upholding the system of constitutional monarchy have been disregarded.

Surendran, who is also Lawyers for Liberty advisor, tweeted in reference to the social media posting by Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim of two constitutional articles pertaining to federal guarantees of state constitutions and the sovereignty of the rulers.

“Well, he must also be aware of Article 71(3) (of the) Federal Constitution – if provisions of the federal or state constitution(s) are ‘habitually’ disregarded, the federal government can legislate to bring the state to order.”

“So, if there’s a disregard of the provisions upholding the system of constitutional monarchy, the federal government may invoke 71(3).

“By Article 71(4), the federal government can intervene to remove provisions in the state constitution which are inconsistent with the federal constitution, including provisions that run contrary to principles of constitutional monarchy.

“In the long run, the (Federal) Constitution can’t be disregarded with impunity and the federal government is duty-bound to enforce it,” Surendran tweeted earlier today.



After Mahathir’s blog, TMJ highlights constitutional articles on royalty 

View image on Twitter
52 people are talking about this
The crown prince’s posting, which cited Articles 71 and 181, had followed a blog post by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad who claimed the state constitutions of Johor and Terengganu were “nullified” with the formation of the Federation of Malaya.

This is the latest episode in a running disagreement between Mahathir and the Johor royal family.

It stemmed from Putrajaya’s initial decision to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and has since simmered over to the selection of a new state menteri besar following the resignation of Osman Sapian, and the reshuffling of the Johor executive council lineup. – MKINI




JOHOR crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim tonight posted on his social media accounts two articles from the federal constitution relating to state constitutions and the rights of Malay rulers.

The articles were Article 71 on federal guarantee of state constitutions, and Article 181 on saving for rulers’ sovereignty.

Article 71 guarantees the right of a state ruler to succeed and hold, enjoy and exercise the constitutional rights and privileges due to him in accordance with the state constitution.

Article 181 states that subject to the provisions of the constitution, the sovereignty, prerogatives, powers and jurisdiction of the rulers and the ruling chiefs of Negri Sembilan within their respective territories shall remain unchanged.

But it is understood that his post tonight is in response to what Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said about the federal constitution superseding the state constitutions in his blog post.

In the blog post, Dr Mahathir mentioned that when the federal constitution had been written, Malaya was to be a democracy, where the people chose the government.

“The rulers would be constitutional heads without executive power. Their position would be guaranteed by the constitution which would be the supreme law of the country,” he said.

He added that the state constitutions of Johor and Terengganu, which were promulgated earlier, were nullified by the new federal constitution which was accepted by all the states of Malaysia.

He also pointed out that the constitution stated that the party winning the election would name the prime minister (or the chief minister – menteri besar) and the constitutional head would endorse.

The prime minister’s blog post was seen as a reminder to the Johor palace of the rule of law.

Dr Mahathir and the Johor palace are known to have a thorny relationship. Both sides had traded barbs over various issues, like the recent appointment of the Johor menteri besar, as well as in the reshuffling to the state exco.

Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar and Tunku Ismail had both said that the state constitution gives the Johor monarch the power to decide on the menteri besar and the choice of exco members.






1.  When the MacMichael Treaties (or agreements) were signed, the states of Malaysia became a colony of the British.  The Malayan Union would be ruled entirely by the British.  The Malays could no longer claim ownership of the states.  There no longer was a Tanah Melayu or Malay Land.

2.  As one, the Malays rose in protest.  Such was their unity that the British had to back downand abrogated all the MacMichael Treaties.  The British agreed to replace the Malayan Union with the Federation of Malaya.  Officially the accepted name was the “Persekutuan Tanah Melayu”.  It reverted to being a protectorate by treaty.

3. The Government of the Federation of Malaya was led by the High Commissioner as the Chief Executive, presiding over the Executive Council and the Legislative Council.  All members were nominated by the High Commissioner.

4.  In 1955 the British decided to hold partial election for 52 of the 98 seats of the Federal Legislative Council.

5. The British believed that no single party could win more than 49 seats to claim a right to form a majority Government.

6.  But in the event the Alliance of UMNO, MCA and MIC won 51 of the 52 seats and was able to claim the right to form a home-rule Government.

7.  Immediately there was a clamour among the people and the parties in the Government for independence.

8.  Negotiations were held in London and eventually it was agreed that Malaya would become independent in 1957.

9.  In preparation for this, the Reid Commission was tasked with drawing up the independent Federal Constitution.

10. It was agreed that Malaya would be a democracy where the people would choose the Government.  The rulers would be constitutional heads without executive power.  Their position would be guaranteed by the Constitution which would be the supreme law of the country.

11.  The party winning the election would name the Prime Minister (or the Chief Minister – Menteri Besar) and the constitutional head would endorse.

12.  Should the constitutional monarch refuse to endorse and proposes his own candidate and endorses him, the winning party can reject him in the assembly – ‘dewan’, through a vote of non-confidence.

13.  The constitutions of Johore and Terengganu which were promulgated earlier were nullified by the new constitution which was accepted by all the states of Malaysia.  Accordingly on the 9th of May, 2018, the peoples of Malaysia went to the polls to elect the Governments of (the Federation) Malaysia and the Governments of the states.

14. It is important that everyone concerned respects the constitution and abide by it.  Failure to do so would negate the rule of law.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s