JOHOR BARU: Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin has blasted former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for claiming that the Bangsa Johor concept will divide Malaysians.
He said the sentiments of Johor nationalism do not mean a break-up of the federation.
“Johor is a state that is part of the Federation of Malaysia and will continue to support its close relationship with the Federal Government.
“However, the relationship between Johor and the Federal Government should be interpreted in the spirit of partnership rather than unitary,” he said in a statement Thursday.
He was responding to Dr Mahathir’s claims that parochialism, including the Bangsa Johor concept, will divide Malaysians, which could result in the break-up of the federation.
He added Bangsa Johor is a state political identity that promotes unity and goodwill among the multiracial society here.
Mohamed Khaled said the concept calls for muafakat (consensus) of all races, uniting all communities and faiths under one state identity based on harmony, understanding and tolerance.
“A united Bangsa Johor will not only make the state and its people better but strengthen Malaysia as a federation,” he said.
According to him, Johor nationalism and the Bangsa Johor concept are special identities that have been long synonymous with the state and its people.
Mohamed Khaled stressed that as early as the 1920s, modern Johor’s second Ruler, Sultan Sir Ibrahim al-Masyur, introduced and implemented the concept of Bangsa Johor.
“This is proof that the term and usage of Bangsa Johor were established before independence and way before the creation of Malaysia,” he said.
He added that people should accept the rise of Johor nationalism and Bangsa Johor as part of Malaysia’s diversity.
“I urge them to understand the meaning behind the rise of Johor and its nationalism, where the state becomes a moral compass for us to appreciate the diversity that we have in the country that will make Malaysia progressive.
“To Tun Dr Mahathir, I hope he will not make comments about things with which he may not be familiar, appreciate or understand.
“We in Johor will continue to be proud in defending the concept that has successfully united the people in the state for many years,” he said.