In a statement issued in conjunction with his 59th birthday, Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar touched on the “power struggle crisis” between Malay leaders in the state.
The ruler said he would not allow this crisis to continue.
Sultan Ibrahim said he was proud of the tolerance between different races and religions in the state but was worried about the crisis affecting the Malays.
“On this historic day, I would also like to express my deep concern over the crisis that is haunting the Malays at this moment.
“As a ruler who has promised and pledged to safeguard the interest of Malays and Islam, I will 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 in the statement uploaded on the ruler’s official Facebook page.
Sultan Ibrahim did not mention names but noted that Johor was the “starting place of the most organised Malay struggle which succeeded and became the strongest bulwark in the nation”.
Umno was formed in Johor Bahru in 1946 and was instrumental in opposing the Malayan Union. Today, it is the largest and dominant political party in the country, forming the backbone of the ruling BN coalition.
Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the former Umno president for more than two decades, is now leading the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan and has positioned his party Bersatu as an alternative to Umno.
Ruler wants Malay leaders to hold dialogue
Meanwhile, Sultan Ibrahim emphasised that the interests and influence of the Malays must be safeguarded.
“Whatever may come, the interest and influence of the Malays must be safeguarded. There can be no compromise or excuses.
“Malays must arise and unite as a major and influential race without the need to offend or sideline other races,” said the ruler.
Sultan Ibrahim said the erosion of institutions led by Malays had prompted him to remind Malay leaders to seek an immediate solution.
“Don’t only be occupied with shouting about special privileges but among the Malays, live in preoccupation (leka) and conflict (bersengketa),” he added.
Therefore, Sultan Ibrahim called on all Malay leaders to engage in dialogue.
“Leaders must take all approaches in finding the best way to make the positions of Malays better and more respected.
“To this end, I would like to advise all Malay leaders to work hand in hand (bermuafakat), sit at the same table and have an open mind to discuss the problems of the Malays and focus on improving their honour and safeguarding their interests.
“Show sincerity in the struggle to defend the Malays and not take every opportunity for self-interest,” he said.
Sultan Ibrahim said he was confident that with this, all problems and challenges faced by the Malays can be overcome.