On his 60th birthday, Sultan Ibrahim advised Putrajaya to not go against the Federal Constitution, especially in its efforts to ratify international agreements such as ICERD & The Rome Statute. 

“The actions of the federal government to ratify ICERD and signed the Rome Statute is an action contradictory to the Federal Constitution because it touches on the power of the rulers and the special status of the Malays and the sanctity of Islam in the country.”

Despite calls by Sultan Ibrahim on 25 April calling for cooperation between Johor and Putrajaya, for the sake of all Johoreans, Dr. Mahathir insisted on continuing his dangerous vendetta against the royalty.

In response, Tuanku wrote to express his worries. Ones shared by the rest of the rakyat.

How could the government without consultation, push for Malaysia to join an agreement without understanding how may affect the social fabric that our country has had for the last 61 years?

The statements later made by Tunku Ismail echoed this-the government had violated the Federal Constitution by signing the Rome Statute.

It was clear that government did not consult the Conference of Rulers when they agreed to ratify the Rome Statute.

Looking back, it is safe to believe that Tun Mahathir did not see it the same way. On April 9, not only did he issue a veiled threat to a respected member of the Johor Royal Family.

Just look at how he attempted to violate the autonomy granted by the Johor Constitution.

He said that his Federal government, through the Federal Constitution could overrule the role of the Sultan in appointing a Menteri Besar.

In Dr. M’s own words, “the role of appointing the new Johor Menteri Besar lies with the party that won the election, not with the Sultan of Johor”.

Tuanku reacted cordially and urged the government to stop politicking. They were elected to create a better nation.

This is something that everyone can agree upon, after all approval ratings for Pakatan Harapan have plummeted to 39% according to the Merdeka Center. 

On April 14, Johor saw the appointment of its 17th Menteri Besar, Dr. Saharuddin Jamal.

Yet, Dr. M would not take this lying down as seen several days later-where at a Bersatu meeting it was said that he was deeply unhappy with how his party had acted during the selection process.

Why did he feel this way? Because he did not agree that there should be a reshuffle for the state exco line-up.

It is as if Mahathir has returned to his firaun days, demanding absolute loyalty to him. 

In the days following this meeting, he took up the task to continue his public attacks against Johor Royal Family, with a blog post that continued to argue that it is the government that has the last say on who is Menteri Besar and not the constitutional monarchs.

Not only that, it is said he now has bought the services of cybertroopers to intensify his campaign against the royals. 

In response, Tunku Ismail countered his arguments by citing 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”.

No doubt concerned over this ever escalating and dangerous game, on April 25, Sultan Ibrahim called on for the government to set aside any misunderstanding or disputes between the state and federal governments.

For many Malaysians, who had voted for Pakatan Harapan in last year’s historic elections on 9 May–they hoped it that Dr. Mahathir would return to rebuilding the nation and to begin his coalition’s work to fulfill its various manifesto promises.

But on 6 May, Dr. Mahathir called Tunku Ismail “stupid” instead.

Even more concerningly, on the same day, Dr Mahathir’s special media adviser Datuk A. Kadir Jasin called upon the authorities to reopen old probes on the Johor Royal Family.

This is how the current leader of Malaysia has reacted to the concerns of a time-honored institution.

This is how he has spent the last few days of Pakatan Harapan’s first year in office—by openly violating the agreements made by his peers all those 61 years ago.

Tunku Zain Al-‘Abidin wrote recently, “agreements made by our forefathers must be honored”. We cannot ignore such agreements, as that would set a precedent where our children can ignore the agreements we make today.

To quote him, “rule of law would not exist”.

Where is the rule of law now?

WRITER: Shafiq Abdullah