A prominent Johor politician told The Third Force that the recent reshuffle of the Johor state executive council by Dato’ Dr Shahruddin Jamal, the newly appointed Menteri Besar, was at the behest of the ruler of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Ismail Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar Al-Haj.
Mahathir knows that the Johor state Legislative Assembly has complete jurisdiction over land related matters and wants a Menteri Besar who will allow him to use state-owned land as a bargaining chip to ‘soften’ the Singaporean government’s stance on prospects of building a crooked bridge.
A prominent Johor politician (DS M) told The Third Force yesterday that the recent reshuffle of the Johor state executive council by Dato’ Dr Shahruddin Jamal, the newly appointed Menteri Besar, was at the behest of the ruler of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Ismail Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar Al-Haj.
Previously, TTF was told that Dato’ Osman Sapian relinquished his post as Menteri Besar to appease Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who, according to DS M, was displeased with Osman’s alleged “inability to ward off criticism from the Johor palace.”
“A hidden power tussle led to the resignation.
“Osman and Anwar are allied to (PPBM president) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and the orang-orang Istana in Johor. Mahathir is very upset about it,” he said.
As the story goes, Mahathir is wary of Anwar’s warm relationship with the Sultan of Johor and Muhyiddin’s role in the PKR president’s failed attempt at bringing a vote of no confidence into motion.
It is said that Osman earned Mahathir’s cordial loathing during the Kebangkitan Harimau Asia convention, held on the 1stof April 2019, when the former Menteri Besar was seen to be “all over Anwar” like a moth to a flame.
Mahathir’s dissatisfaction with Osman traces all the way back to the not-so-distant-past when the Tengku Mahkota of Johor (TMJ), Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, criticised the federal government for attempting to revive the bedevilled crooked bridge proposal.
The criticism, which struck Mahathir as a challenge by the ruler of Johor to see who had the final say on land matters, came just two days after Osman announced that Dato’ Seri Azmin Ali would be headed for Singapore to discuss the project with his southern counterpart.
According to TMJ, it would make more sense for the federal government to improve on healthcare and proceed with the construction of a hospital in Pasir Gudang.
While that made perfect sense, his criticism threatened to open a Pandora’s box of unsavoury details that Mahathir preferred to keep hidden from public.
These details were previously released by the Tun Abdullah Badawi administration when Mahathir, then a retiree, accused Abdullah of being a coward and referred to Malaysia as “a half past six country with no guts” for scrapping the project.
Abdullah saw no way out, as the project was fraught with obstacles from the get go, many revolving around Malaysia’s obligations to Singapore under the 1961 and 1962 water agreements, the Wayleave agreements and the Separation Agreement of 1965.
Stacked somewhere amid the details were classified documents that bore excerpts of communications that took place between Mahathir and two former Singaporean Prime Ministers, namely, Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Goh Chok Tong.
The communications shocked Malaysians of all walks when it was revealed that Mahathir quietly put Singapore’s usage of Malaysian airspace and the sale of Johor land on the negotiating table.
It was further revealed that Mahathir was advised by the then Attorney General to do away with the project as the construction of a bridge, however crooked, would require the demolition of the Malaysian side of the Johor Causeway, directly affecting water pipelines located inside and those straddling the link.
According to the AG’s Chambers, the ownership of those pipelines was vested with the Public Utilities Board of Singapore.
The AGC stressed that under the 1961 and 1962 Johor-Singapore Water Agreements, “Malaysia is required to obtain approval of PUB in relation to the alteration of water pipelines as a result of the construction of a full straight bridge or a scenic half bridge.”
It follows, that unless the Singaporean government is suddenly agreeable to renegotiating terms of the Water Agreements, problems that stood as stumbling blocks to the Mahathir administration of 2003 are likely to bedevil the Mahathir administration of today.
That is the reason why the Prime Minister is desperate to have a “yes man” serve as the Menteri Besar of Johor.
He knows that the state Legislative Assembly has complete jurisdiction over land related matters and wants a Menteri Besar who will allow him to use state-owned land as a bargaining chip to ‘soften’ the Singaporean government’s stance on prospects of building a crooked bridge.
Mahathir is well aware of Muhyiddin’s aversion towards him and knows that the PPBM president has long been in talks with certain quarters from PKR, UMNO and PPBM itself to trigger his ouster from government.
That explains the firm “no” he gave when it was proposed to him that Muhyiddin be appointed as Menteri Besar to replace Osman.
According to DS M, not only was the proposal a trap, the plan was for Muhyiddin to act surprised, scoff the idea off and see what the Prime Minister had to say.
The minute Mahathir brushed the whole thing off as nonsense, Muhyiddin was assured of the Prime Minister’s distaste for him and quickly got his men to sneak Shahruddin into the old man’s innermost coterie.
Once he had Mahathir believing that Shahruddin was “a yes man,” he quickly told reporters that Sultan Ibrahim was entitled to decide who got to become Menteri Besar.
True enough, Mahathir fell for the trap.
Being the egomaniac he is, he decided to show the ruler of Johor who was in charge by submitting only Shahruddin’s name to the palace.
Prior to that, he made it clear to Shahruddin that there was to be no reshuffling of the state executive lineup as a reshuffle was what the ruler wanted.
However, Shahruddin did just that.
The minute he got appointed Menteri Besar, he put Muhyiddin’s men in strategic places and ended up ringing some serious alarms in camp Mahathir.
It was only then that the Prime Minister realised he got conned.
Unbeknownst to many, last night’s emergency meeting by PPBM’s supreme council wasn’t by chance-medley, but Mahathir’s way of seeing just how many council members were supportive of him and how many were with Muhyiddin and Anwar.
Like a castaway stranded on a desolate island, the Prime Minister realises that staying put doing nothing will not guarantee his safety as the sharks surrounding the island have sprouted legs and are now waiting for the right moment to feast.
To guarantee his survival, he is about to strike on Muhyiddin and Anwar anytime soon, as the longer he waits, the higher the likelihood that his premiership will not last once the sharks start walking and lighting up a fire for a barbecue.
To be continued…