JOHOR BARU - Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim has alleged he and his father, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, are under surveillance by Malaysia's government, using covert intelligence systems.
In a Facebook post on Saturday (Sept 8), Tunku Ismail said he had been approached by an individual to buy a surveillance device, which he described in his post as "Israeli-made" and "used to spy on people and gather intel".
The prince said government officials had informed him that the device was used by national agencies such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the police intelligence agency Special Branch, the Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and the Prime Minister's Office.
He noted that the technology was used by the former Barisan Nasional (BN) administration, and to help with "cyber warfare" before the general election in May, but that there was no place for such practices in "Malaysia Baru" (New Malaysia) after the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition won the polls.
"It is not nice when officials come to me saying that my father, the Johor Sultan, and I are being monitored," he said. "And that there are cybertroopers planted on JDT and our personal (social media) pages ... waiting in case there is something that does not go down well with certain higher-ups," he added, referring to the Facebook page of the Johor Darul Ta'zim Football Club (JDT), of which he is the royal patron.
According to news site Malaysiakini, Tunku Ismail made similar claims in 2016, alleging that his phone was being tapped and that his movements were being monitored by the Special Branch. He had also claimed that the Bukit Aman police headquarters has opened files on him and his father.
In April, Tunku Ismail had in a post on JDT's Facebook warned Johoreans not to be "easily fooled by a forked-tongue individual", who had reduced the power of state rulers and was not trying to save the country as claimed.
While he did not name the individual, he was clearly referring to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who led the then-opposition PH to election victory one month later.
"Don't change the boat if the engine is not broken, don't even change the skipper but allow HM the Sultan of Johor and I to work with the skipper," he wrote in April, in reference to widespread discontent with former premier Najib Razak and his party Umno, which helms BN.
Tunku Ismail's comments raised eyebrows at the time, not only because Malaysia's royal houses usually stay above the political fray, but also because the prince's views spurred considerable pushback from the electorate.
In his post on Saturday however, the Johor prince reiterated the southern state's support for central government.
"Let me be clear, I have nothing against the government. Johor has always had the policy of supporting the ruling government. That said, we will give our support when the right things are done. Yet we will not be silent when wrongs are being committed," he said.
According to news site the Malay Mail, Tunku Ismail's post was accompanied with six screen grabs of images related to information on the monitoring devices.
One device featured is known as Captur, which is designed for off-air interception of cellular communication in mobile networks. The system intercepts and records all outgoing and incoming calls, voice and short messaging system text, to and from the target, reported the Malay Mail.
Another device is a geo-location tracker called the Observer system that provides real-time data about a target's location and movement.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.