Thursday, June 28, 2018

Johor crown prince warns that state may secede if Putrajaya breaches federation's terms

Straits Times

Oct 16, 2015,

[Note the date of this news article. The Johor Sultanate has been entertaining the idea of secession from the Federation even as early as 2015. And probably before. It may not be the most feasible option, but it is clearly not unthinkable. But why am I putting this old news out now?]

KUALA LUMPUR - Johor has a right to secede from Malaysia if there is a breach of the terms agreed upon at the time of its membership to the Federation of Malaya, crown prince Tunku Ismail Ibrahim has said in a new interview.

In the interview with local football portal FourthOfficial, the prince said that as future Sultan of Johor, his duties were towards the state and its people before Malaysia, reported The Malay Mail Online.

"In fact, we only joined the Federation of Malaya upon both parties agreeing to several basic terms. And if any one of those terms are breached, we have every right to secede from this country," Tunku Ismail said.

"You can accuse me of instigating state-based sentiments, but to me, I'm merely doing my duty to the people of Johor, and reminding them of the history and heritage behind this great land," he added.

Referring to the crop of scandals currently affecting the country, Tunku Ismail said the royal family should not be associated with "the mess", adding that it has always been strong, independent and resourceful.

The crown prince's comments echo a similar sentiment expressed by his brother in June, where he cautioned on photo-sharing platform Instagram that the southern state may secede from Malaysia, reported the news portal.

In that post, Tunku Idris Ibrahim had pointed out that the Johor government had joined the Malay Federation in 1946 on several conditions, which included making Islam the religion of the state, the state's absolute right over water and land issues, and the state royal house having its own armed forces.

[Does this give you a clue? Mahathir, barren of any new ideas, have gone to his "Greatest Hits Collection" and revive or threaten to revive the Water Agreement spat with Singapore. He claims that the water agreement is "too costly" for Malaysia, ignoring the symbiotic relationship between SG and Johor. If he threatens Johor water security, which is served by the cooperation with Singapore in the area of water treatment, it may well be sufficient provocation for the Johor Sultanate to secede from the Federation. ]

Calls for Johor's secession have been gaining steam online, with pictures of imaginary Johor currencies - the Johor dollar and Johor dinar - going viral on social media earlier this month.

Tunku Ismail has been a vocal critic of Putrajaya. He was embroiled in a very public spat with Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz after the Umno minister reportedly told the Johor crown prince to stay out of politics or Putrajaya will "whack" him, the website said.

He had commented on June 5 about Prime Minister Najib Razak's absence at the Nothing To Hide forum that was cancelled at the last minute to avoid a confrontation between Mr Najib and former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.

[During GE 2018, the Johor royalty had spoken out against Mahathir. Mahathir has done some things since then that COULD be construed as being against Johor, but nothing clear-cut so far. He may just be reasonable and objective. However, threatening Johor's water supply would be the smoking gun, Johor needs to secede. 


Update: One day after I "published" this old news article that was sitting in "draft", the following news article (below) was published. It was the Johor royalty sending a message to Mahathir.]
Johor Crown Prince calls S’pore a ‘neighbour and a friend’ for assistance during drought seasons

29 June, 2018

JOHOR – Describing Singapore as both a "neighbour and a friend", Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim has expressed his gratitude to the Republic for helping the state during earlier drought seasons.

"Thank you to the Singaporean Government for helping Johor during the drought seasons and when we had our water crisis," wrote the crown prince on the Johor Southern Tigers Facebook page on Thursday (June 28) evening.

He said Johor and Singapore have always helped each other and hoped "the close ties and friendship forged hundreds of years ago last forever."

In June 2016, Singapore supplied an extra six million gallons of potable water a day to Johor at the request of the state's water regulatory body.

Badan Kawalselia Air Johor had asked for the extra gallons for a month to supplement the water supply in areas served by Johor's Sungai Layang dam, which had been hit severely by a dry spell.

A month later, Singapore increased the supply of treated water to Johor by 6 million gallons, from an existing supply of 15 to 16 million gallons, due to pollution in the Johor River.

The prince's comments comes days after Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad revived a 1962 water dispute with Singapore which he labelled as "ridiculous".

In an interview with Bloomberg published on Monday (June 25) , Dr Mahathir said water is among issues with Singapore "that we need to settle", adding: "We will sit down and talk with them, like civilised people."

Speaking later in a separate interview with Channel NewsAsia, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia will present its case on the water agreement to Singapore in due course.

"I think it is manifestly ridiculous that you should sell water at 3 sen per thousand gallons. I mean, that was okay way back in the 1990s or 1930s, but now, what can you buy with 3 sen. Nothing," he said.

Under the 1962 Water Agreement, which expires in 2061, Singapore's national water agency PUB may draw 250 million gallons of raw water from the Johor River daily at 3 sen (1.01 Singapore cents) per thousand gallons.

In return, Johor is entitled to receive a daily supply of up to five million gallons of treated water - or 2 per cent of the water supplied to Singapore - at 50 sen per 1,000 gallons.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan responded indirectly to Dr Mahathir's comments on Monday afternoon, posting a video on the Republic's quest for water security and remarking: "Why water has always been sacrosanct in Singapore."

Asked about Dr Mahathir's comments, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the 1962 Water Agreement is a fundamental agreement guaranteed by both governments in the 1965 Separation Agreement which was registered with the United Nations.

"Both sides must comply fully with all the provisions of these agreements," a MFA spokesman said.

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