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Johor’s chief minister quits

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M'sian PM Mahathir refuses to give reason for the Menteri Besar's resignation

Johor's Menteri Besar Osman Sapian has resigned.

"The Johor MB resigned yesterday (Monday) via a letter to me and I will send the letter to the Johor Sultan (Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar)," Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said.

Asked if there are any potential candidates to take over the position, Dr Mahathir said there are three to four.

He also said that the new Menteri Besar must hail from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.

"For now, Johor has no Menteri Besar," he added.

Asked if there was any reason Mr Osman tendered his resignation, Dr Mahathir refused to elaborate.

"No, we are not going to say why he stepped down. There was a reason given. But if he wants to step down, we accept," he said.

Dr Mahathir added that Mr Osman submitted resignation letters to both himself and the Johor Sultan.

"Osman met the Sultan, he submitted a resignation letter to me and another to the Johor Sultan. I have the right to read it," he said, drawing laughter from reporters.

Speculation of Mr Osman's exit mounted after he was absent from the Malaysia-Singapore Leaders' Retreat yesterday.

Mr Osman was sworn in as chief minister of the southern Malaysian state 11 months ago, becoming the first non-Umno Menteri Besar for Johor. Umno was born in Johor and the state was the party's stronghold state until the May 9 General Election last year.


Among the contenders for the post are Johor Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee chairman Sahruddin Jamal, who is from Bersatu, and Parti Keadilan Rakyat's state Youth, Sports and Culture Committee chairman Mohd Khuzzan Abu Bakar.

The New Straits Times quoting sources saying that Pakatan Harapan leaders were not satisfied with Mr Osman's performance as the state's chief minister.

Leaders from his own party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, were also not impressed with the way he handled the controversy surrounding his academic qualifications.

It is understood, The Star reported, that the Johor palace was also dissatisfied with the way Mr Osman handled the Sungai Kim Kim toxic gas contamination, which saw the closure of 111 schools in Pasir Gudang.

Prior to the announcement, the Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Ibni Sultan Ibrahim said: "I hope the new Menteri Besar is not a 'yes man' of Putrajaya. The welfare of the people and well-being of the state must always be a priority".

Tunku Ismail has been particularly vocal against Pakatan Harapan - he opposed the government's move to accede to the Rome Statute.

Dr Mahathir said that Tunku Ismail was free to criticise the government as long as no laws were broken.

"But if there are statements that are deemed seditious, we will take action against him. He is not above the law.

"In fact, nobody in Malaysia is above the law," Dr Mahathir said at a press conference yesterday. - THE STAR