MALAYSIA - The Sultan of Johor has said that there is no attempt on his part to meddle in state affairs, breaking his silence over a controversial housing and property Bill passed this week that raised questions about the separation between the Malaysian royalty and state governance.
Sultan Ibrahim Ismail Sultan Iskandar said his priority is solely the interests of the people, and the state government will go on roadshow to explain that he will act only on the advice of the Johor Menteri Besar. The Sultan's first direct comments on the issue were made through an interview with the New Straits Times (NST) that was published yesterday.
"There is no interference. I want my subjects to understand the enactment and be happy about it," he told NST. "Once they are happy, the Menteri Besar will present the enactment to me."
The assurances were given by the ruler following an uproar from politicians and legal experts over the Johor Housing and Real Property Board Enactment 2014.
The Bill was approved in the Johor state assembly on Monday, after amendments were made to key points that had been criticised by veteran leaders such as former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and former deputy premier Musa Hitam.
The Bill is meant to pave the way for the establishment of a housing board to promote property development and help build more low-cost homes. In its original form, it would have allowed the state ruler to hire and fire the board's committee members and oversee the accounts.
Malaysia's nine royal houses perform largely ceremonial duties, so provisions that had the potential to allow a Malay hereditary ruler to intervene in policy matters of the state raised fears of a constitutional breach.