JOHOR BARU: Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar admitted that he felt slighted by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s remarks which equated the Bugis community with pirates.

He said such callous statements made by politicians could sow the seeds of hatred among the people.

Sultan Ibrahim said that such negative perceptions could risk destroying the Johorean practice of cooperation, or muafakat, which had led to peace and prosperity all this while.

“I, too, felt slighted (by what he said). I am of Bugis descent. The Sultan of Selangor is of Bugis descent. Many Johoreans are of Bugis descent. My ancestry can be traced to Riau-Lingga, where there are many Bugis people. What will the Bugis feel?

“Imagine if I say that Chinese were robbers. Won’t the Chinese feel slighted? If I say the Indians are murderers? The Indians will feel slighted.

“This is what I have been saying. Such things will cause disunity and incite hatred among the races.

“We should be respecting one another. We cannot allow anyone to say something that will cause one race to hate another.

“There is not just one race involved in developing Johor. Everyone plays a role,” said Sultan Ibrahim during an exclusive interview with the Media Prima Group at Istana Pasir Pelangi in conjunction with his 59th birthday.

The ruler said he wanted all Johoreans, regardless of race, to unite in spite of the challenges that came their way.

He said that any semblance of disunity could disrupt Johor’s development, and affect the state’s prosperity and the people’s wellbeing.

“The Malays, Indians, Chinese and all others are Bangsa Johor. Once there is disunity, the Malays will not be the only ones who will be disunited.

“The Indians will be disunited and Chinese will be disunited, and this will mean that the Bangsa Johor will be disunited,” he said.

Sultan Ibrahim said that it was important for the people to throw their support for the Johor government, which had always placed emphasis on unity.

“If everyone unites to support the administration of the Johor government, I feel that there will not be any problem with Johor. If Johor wants to progress, listen to my advice.

“I have said for so long that the best present that the people can give me is unity among the people. I do not ask for anything else,” said Sultan Ibrahim.

The ruler said that when it comes to Malay unity, he wanted the community to practise the Bangsa Johor concept of Muafakat Membawa Berkat (concord is a blessing), which has been embraced by Johoreans all this while.

Dr Mahathir received a rebuke from many quarters, including political and non-governmental groups, for a speech he made during the “Anti-Kleptocracy Rally” organised by Pakatan Harapan on Oct 14.

He had alleged that Malaysia was being led by a prime minister, who is of Bugis descent, and equated the community to pirates.

MEANWHILE, according to Malaysiakini:

Earlier this month, Sultan Sharafuddin (photorebuked Mahathir, describing the former premier’s remarks as an attempt to insult and incite hatred towards the Bugis community.

Whereas, the Selangor Royal Council opined that Mahathir should be investigated under the Sedition Act.

Mahathir made the remarks during the Oct 14 anti-kleptocracy rally in Petaling Jaya in reference to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s ancestry.

“Maybe he can trace his ancestry to Bugis pirates. Somehow, he lost his way and came to Malaysia. Go home to Bugis (Sulawesi)!” he had said

Sultan Sharafuddin said these remarks were clearly offensive to the Bugis community and depicted them as originating from “pirates, thieves and criminals”.

However, Mahathir, who is being investigated by the police over this issue, argued that he had only targetted Najib and not the entire Bugis community.

Johor sultan: Respect, not hate

Meanwhile, Sultan Ibrahim said such remarks are seen as wanting to divide the races.

“What if I say the Chinese are robbers? Would the Chinese be slighted? Indian murderers? The Indians would feel slighted.

“This is what I said (remarks which cause) division. Making races hate each other. We should be respecting each other,” added the ruler.

Sultan Ibrahim said that all races played a role in the development of Johor and urged them to remain united no matter what happens.

“Malays, Indians, Chinese are all ‘Bangsa Johor’.

“When I mentioned ‘divided’, it is not only the Malays becoming divided, division among Indians, division among Chinese. This means Johor would be divided.

“If all are united in supporting the Johor administration, I feel there would be no problems in Johor. If you want Johor to progress, listen to my advice.

In his birthday message on Wednesday, Sultan Ibrahim said he would not permit the “power struggle crisis” between Malay leaders to continue in his state.

“As a ruler who has promised and pledged to safeguard the interest of Malays and Islam, I would not allow the power struggle crisis between Malay leaders to continue that would in the end cause Malays to be split and become weak.

“Day by day, Malays are dragged into a credibility crisis that tarnishes the image and confidence in institutions led by Malays which in the end diminishes the confidence, influence and true power of Malays,” he added.