New Menteri Besar for Johor to be appointed today

JOHOR BARU • Johor ruler, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, has accepted the resignation of Datuk Osman Sapian as the state’s Menteri Besar (chief minister).

A new Menteri Besar is expected to be appointed today, a working day in Johor, said State Secretary Azmi Rohani in a statement yesterday.

It was learnt that Bukit Kepong assemblyman Sahruddin Jamal, who is from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, like Mr Osman, is expected to be appointed the 17th Johor Menteri Besar.

Dr Sahruddin is currently a member of the Johor state Cabinet, called the executive council. He is the state executive councillor for health, environment and agriculture.

Under the state’s Constitution, the party or alliance with the most number of lawmakers will pick its next leader and submit the person’s name to the ruler for appointment.

But as has happened in other states, the ruler can accept or reject the candidate, and might ask for the name of another state lawmaker.

There have been tensions between Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Sultan Ibrahim in recent weeks as both claimed to have the right to appoint the next Menteri Besar.

During the meeting with the ruler yesterday which lasted about 50 minutes, Mr Osman informed Sultan Ibrahim about his resignation.

Mr Osman said later that the ruler hopes to see a reshuffle of the state Cabinet along with the appointment of a new chief minister.

Tun Dr Mahathir announced last Monday that Mr Osman had tendered his resignation letter to him.

Various reasons were forwarded on why Dr Mahathir soured on Mr Osman’s leadership, just 11 months after Pakatan Harapan (PH) stormed to power in the state that was the stronghold of Umno.

Among the reasons given were the Prime Minister’s belief that Mr Osman is pliant to the wishes of the royal household led by Sultan Ibrahim.

Sultan Ibrahim, who has extensive business interests in the state, regularly makes public declarations on economic policies and does not shy away from getting directly involved in state administrative matters.

Dr Mahathir’s decision to replace Mr Osman came after the federal government announced plans recently to develop a ship-to-ship transfer hub in Johor Baru port waters, according to PH sources. Johor’s Crown Prince, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, and Mr Osman both claimed they were unaware of the multimillion-dollar hub project.