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JOHOR BAHRU – The Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar’s birthday celebration started today with the ‘meletak kerja’ ceremony held at Istana Besar Memorial Monument.

The ceremony was conducted as a symbolic start to the celebration which took off at 9.20am with 10 members of the Royal Johor Military Force (JMF) marching in with the flag and fastening it to a pole.

After preparing the flag to be hoisted, ceremonial chief Datuk Abdul Latif Yusof was notified that the ceremony was ready to begin and soon after the ceremonial chief declared the start of the celebration, Johor Mufti Datuk Mohd Tahrir Shamsudin recited a prayer.

During the declaration Latiff informed that the flag would be flown throughout the Sultan Johor’s 2017 birthday celebration.

This was followed by a flag-hoisting ceremony which was accompanied by a performance by the JMF brass band followed by a seven-gun salute.

Also present at the ceremony were Johor Council of the Royal Court president Datuk Abdul Rahim Ramli, state secretary Azmi Rohani, Johor police chief Datuk Wan Ahmad Najmuddin Mohd as well as heads of departments and representatives of government agencies. – BERNAMA

EXCLUSIVE: JOHOR BARU: The Sultan of Johor has said he is “deeply offended and hurt” by the political spin used by certain politicians against mainland Chinese investments in the state, saying if this is left unchecked, it would drive away investors.

In a no-holds barred interview, a visibly upset Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar singled out Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for “putting political interests above Malaysian interests, particularly Johor”.

“Enough is enough. I have so far restrained myself from commenting on the controversy on Forest City generated by Dr Mahathir and his supporters.

“But Dr Mahathir has gone too far with his twisting of the issue. He is making allegations that 700,000 mainland Chinese will stay in JB, and that citizenships will be given away, and that huge tracts of land have been sold to the Chinese.

“He is giving the impression that Johor is surrendering land to the Chinese and that we are giving up our sovereignty, comparing even how we gave up Singapore to the British,” he said in an interview at Istana Bukit Serene here.

His Royal Highness said he did not wish to intervene in politics but he had to set the record straight as “the facts have been twisted by people with twisted minds and intentions”.

“Let me ask him this – Forest City is to be built on reclamation land and most of these units are condominiums. In simple language, these units are up in the air. They are strata units.

“I would like to ask Dr Mahathir if these foreign buyers can just take their apartments back home or carry off an inch of the reclaimed land.

“Take a look at the number of foreigners who have bought pro­perties in Singapore. Are the Singaporeans in that tiny island republic worried? No, they are not and they, in fact, welcome affluent expatriates there.

“Here, we have Dr Mahathir creat­ing fear, using race, just to fulfil his political motives. He’s not stupid, he’s just selfish and opportunistic,” he added.

Sultan Ibrahim was responding to a series of comments and blogs posted by Dr Mahathir who claimed that huge tracts of land around Johor Baru were being sold to fo­­reigners with no restriction, and there would be mass immigration to take up residence in these new cities.

Dr Mahathir cited Forest City developed by a China-based com­pany, claiming “already thousands of units have been completed and sold to mainland Chi­­nese.”

He also quoted Bloomberg re­­ports as saying that 700,000 main­­­land Chi­nese would stay there and that there were 60 similar projects which could house more than a million people.

Muhyiddin, the Parti Pribumi Ber­­satu Malaysia president, in an interview with Sin Chew Daily, had also accused Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak of inviting mainland Chinese investments into the country, which he claimed was “robbing the rice bowl” of Malaysians.

Forest City, when completed, will sit on four artificial islands deve­loped by Coun­try Garden Pacific View.

Tuanku said the mixed development project in Forest City was not just for Chinese investors, but for anyone around the world, inclu­ding Johoreans.

“This project will increase Johor land size and sovereignty,” he added.

Sultan Ibrahim said the spill­over effect would be enormous, including re­venue for the state go­vernment in terms of taxes and about 200,000 job op­­por­­­­tunities.

He also pointed out that land matters were under the purview of the state government and not the Fe­­de­ral Govern­ment.

He said that SP Se­­tia, a Malay­sian company, was in­­volved in the de­­ve­­lopment of the Battersea Po­­wer Station Apart­­ment in London and the British government welcomed the project and investment.

“Does Dr Maha­thir or his children own properties overseas?” Sultan Ibrahim asked.

He added that many investors coming to Forest City were also ta­king ad­­vantage of the Malaysia My Se­­cond Home (MM2H) programme, which was launched in 2002 during Dr Mahathir’s time.

“During his te­­n­­ure as prime minis­ter, he was asking Malaysians to Look East but now he is critici­sing when Chinese investors come here to invest.”

As prime minister, he said that Dr Mahathir had paid a lot of attention and priority in developing Lang­kawi over other islands in the country.

Sultan Ibrahim added that Dr Mahathir was “playing the politics of fear and race which have no place in Johor as I do not believe in racial politics”.

“He is insulting these rich Chinese property investors. They are not hard up for Malaysian citizenship. Many of them have properties in other countries including Australia and the United Kingdom.

“They buy homes here because they can see the strategic importance of Johor.

“JB is just minutes away from Singapore and Batam – two different countries.

“JB is also set to be the next Klang Valley with just a 90-minute train ride once the High Speed Rail is linked between KL and JB.

“Anyone can see how the property price of JB will shoot up but Dr Mahathir prefers to create fear,” he said.

Sultan Ibrahim said Johor Baru would be the next major Malaysian city, after Kuala Lumpur, like New York-Los Angeles, Beijing-Shanghai and Sydney-Melbourne.

Dr Mahathir, he said, had left out the spin-off effects of these property developments, citing the hundreds of thousands of businesses and jobs that would be created as a result of this transformation.

“Instead of Johoreans going to Singapore or KL to look for jobs, we will see people from Klang Valley flocking to JB instead.

“Not only will foreigners be spending money in Johor but Malaysians from outside JB will also spend money in the state,” Sultan Ibrahim said.

“Dr Mahathir and his allies are only talking negative things, most of which are a figment of his imagination and evil thoughts.

“I feel sad for him because he had to lower himself to this point. It is okay to disagree but please do not concoct things.

“He used to hate western press but now he is quoting everything from the western press. He has forgotten many things he has done,” he said.

JOHOR BARU: Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar has denied making statements against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as claimed by a blog.

He also condemned those who had misused his name to comment on politics.

Sultan Ibrahim said the palace maintained a position of strict neutrality on all matters pertaining to national politics.

The Ruler said he came to know about the irresponsible posting being circulated in social media recently titled “Terkini Ringgit Jatuh RM4.4” (Latest – Ringgit Falls RM4.4), and stressed that no such statement was issued by him or his office.

“I regard this action as defamatory and reprehensible. Of late, there have been a number of ridiculous statements circulated on social media, with the impression given that these statements were issued by members of the royal family,” he said in a statement which was posted on his official Facebook page yesterday.

He cited a recent posting alleging that Johor Permaisuri Raja Zarith Sofiah Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah had ordered a ban on the solat and azan.

Sultan Ibrahim said the individual’s action had deeply hurt Raja Zarith Sofiah.

He said that he regretted that there were those who misused social media to seek attention.

“Any statements issued by any member of the Johor royal family will only be done so through our official Facebook accounts,” he added.

Johor police chief Comm Datuk Wan Ahmad Najmuddin Mohd confirmed that a police report had been lodged on Tuesday over the blog posting.

“Initial investigations found that the Johor Sultan has never made any such statements as claimed by the blog,” Wan Ahmad Najmuddin said.

JOHOR BAHRU – The ceremony to bring down the flag signifying the conclusion of celebrations in conjunction with the coronation of the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, since last month, was carried out today.

The ceremony, beginning at 9am at the Istana Besar Memorial, was witnessed by the President of the Johor Royal Council, Datuk Abdul Rahim Ramli.

The ceremony began with the reading of prayers by Johor Mufti Datuk Mohd Tahrir Shamsudin shortly after the Head of Ceremonies Datuk Abdul Latiff Yusoff called for the commencement of the ceremony.

The flag was then handed over to Abdul Rahim.

The ceremony was also witnessed by the chairman of the Johor Islamic Religious Council, Datuk Noh Gadut, State Exco members and heads of government departments.

The flag was raised on March 16 to symbolise the commencement of the coronation ceremony for Sultan Ibrahim.

The coronation ceremony for Sultan Ibrahim as the fifth Sultan of modern Johor was held on March 23 at the Istana Besar, here. – BERNAMA

JOHOR BAHARU – Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar was today crowned as the fifth sultan of modern Johor with pomp and pageantry at the Istana Besar here.

Raja Zarith Sofiah Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah was also crowned, at the same ceremony, as the Permaisuri of Johor, a title used for the first time in the state.

The ceremony, which was aired live over RTM and TV3 and beamed to a large screen at Dataran Bandaraya, was witnessed by thousands of people in Johor and the rest of the country.

The ceremony was also witnessed by Sultan Ibrahim’s mother, Enche’ Besar Hajah Khalsom Abdullah; the sultan’s elder sister, the Tunku Puteri of Johor Tunku Kamariah Sultan Iskandar and the sultan’s younger sister, Tunku Besar Zabedah Sultan Iskandar.

The Tunku Mahkota of Johor, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, and Che’ Puan Khaleeda Bustamam as well as the other children of Sultan Ibrahim also witnessed the historic ceremony.

The Sultan of Brunei Darussalam, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, and his wife Paduka Seri Baginda Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha and the Malay Rulers witnessed the coronation, held at the Throne Room of the palace.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, as well as Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and his wife Puan Sri Noorainee Abdul Rahman also attended the ceremony.

The ceremony began at about 10 am with the arrival of Sultan Ibrahim and Raja Zarith Sofiah at the Throne Room, after which the Johor State Anthem was played.

Johor Mufti Datuk Mohd Tahrir Samsudin placed the crown on the head of Sultan Ibrahim and then placed the diadem on the head of Raja Zarith Sofiah. – Bernama