by NG MIN SHEN / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
THE power to appoint a new Johor mentri besar (MB) is in the hands of the government and not Johor’s royal palace, said Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“This is a political thing. The Sultan has no role. The role is for the party that won the election to determine who leads,” he told reporters after delivering the keynote address at the Kuala Lumpur Islamic Finance Forum (KLIFF) 2019 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
“We will appoint a new candidate as quickly as possible. We need to decide on who the candidate is. It takes a little bit of time, but it will be done very quickly,” Dr Mahathir said.
The PM announced on Tuesday (April 9) that Datuk Osman Sapian had tendered his resignation as Johor MB on Monday (April 8), confirming rumours that he would be stepping down amid growing tension between the government and the Johor royal family.
Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s Bukit Kepong assemblyman Dr Sahruddin Jamal is speculated to be taking up the now-vacant post, although the PM said he is not aware of Sahruddin being fielded.
“I don’t know,” Dr Mahathir said when queried on whether Sahruddin was one of the candidates being considered for the job.
It has been reported that there are three to four candidates in the running, while the selected replacement for Osman must be a member of Bersatu.
Following Osman’s resignation, Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim said on his official Twitter account that his father, Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, had already called for a new MB for some time.
He added that the power to choose the MB lies with the Johor Sultan.
Osman was sworn in as MB for Johor in May last year, the first non-Umno MB of the state — notable as Johor was previously viewed as a stronghold state for Umno, which was also born in Johor before the country’s independence.
Sultan Ibrahim said he will make the best decision for the people when the time comes.
“I want certain quarters to stop making noise and fighting about politics, and focus on efforts to take care of the nation instead,” the Sultan said in a statement published on his official Facebook page yesterday.
“On matters concerning Johor, do no try to meddle into state affairs as this is a sovereign state that still has a Sultan,” the ruler added.
The ruler said although he is currently overseas, he is always following the country’s developments, especially on Johor.
Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir urged Islamic banking and finance players to be “intensely invested” in technologies, in order to transform their banking services and disseminate their products more effectively and efficiently.
In his keynote address at the event yesterday, he observed that technology has allowed financial and non-financial transactions to be made online from any location, while digital consumers prefer conducting their own research before deciding on a particular product or service.
Dr Mahathir also noted that financial technology (fintech) has already penetrated the Islamic finance space, despite it still being considered in a very early stage.
“However, the potential disruptions to traditional Islamic finance should not be underestimated. The disruptions can swing both ways. Overall, fintech in the Islamic finance space positively contributes to the evolution of the Islamic finance products and services offering,” he said.