The ‘Bangsa Johor’ concept is for the greater good of Malaysia and it does not make Johor look parochial, said the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar.
“While I am proud to say I am ‘Bangsa Johor‘, I am still Malaysian. When I am overseas, if anyone asks me where I am from, I proudly say ‘Malaysia’.
“We don’t have any bad motive or hidden agenda. Our intention is still for the greater good of Malaysia.
“If I am given the opportunity to unite Malaysians, I will do it. I will go around the country because I know how to do it,” Sultan Ibrahim was quoated as saying in an exclusive interview with the English language daily newspaper, the New Straits Times (NST) in today’s publication.
Sultan Ibrahim said like Johor, other states should come up with their own identifiers, so that Malaysians could celebrate the differences.
To a question on his stern rebuke against former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad’s criticism on ‘Bangsa Johor’, Sultan Ibrahim said that anyone who did not know the history or background of a subject should not speak with authority (on the matter).
Recently, Dr Mahathir when responding to a question from the audience on ‘Bangsa Johor’ during an event, had criticised it, saying the trend towards stressing “state citizenship” could break up the unity of Malaysians.
Sultan Ibrahim explained that the history of the ‘Bangsa Johor’ concept came about in 1920, when his great grandfather, Sultan Sir Ibrahim, felt the need to give thanks and unite the various races who had come together to open up Johor.
“The Chinese, Indians and Javanese had all been invited to join the Malays, in the 1800s, by his father, Sultan Sir Abu Bakar, and his grandfather, Temenggung Daeng Ibrahim, to seek their fortunes in Johor. They worked hard to clear the land and build Johor from when it was just a jungle with a very small population,” he said.
Sultan Ibrahim also spoke on the idea of developing Johor through the Rumah Johor housing scheme, the Bank of Johor project, Maglev train project, and the water issue which he described as a “very big issue”.
On Rumah Johor, the Sultan said the scheme under the Sultan Ibrahim Foundation, a zero-profit organisation, would offer the cheapest and best-quality houses to the people.
While saying that the Bank of Johor project would be linked to the Rumah Johor housing scheme, Sultan Ibrahim revealed that the plan was for it to be a commercial bank modelled after the cooperative bank, Bank Rakyat, and it would be focusing on providing loans to the low-income group.
In view of the massive traffic jam at the Causeway every day, Sultan Ibrahim said he was looking at the Maglev entering Singapore.
On the water issue, Sultan Ibrahim said Malaysia should learn from Singapore on how to manage water.
“Don’t be shy! Why must we look to faraway countries to learn? It would be a waste of government money. We must have recycled water for industrial use,” he said.
Asked whether the new political party by Muhyiddin Yassin would further split the Malays, Sultan Ibrahim was quick to reply:
“I am above politics. I don’t get myself involved in politics. I am here to unit all ‘Bangsa Johor’. Not otherwise. That is all I have to say.”