Johor sultan wants property and housing bill reviewed

PETALING JAYA (May 7): Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar today said he wants the Johor Real Property and Housing Board Bill to be reviewed.

The Johor government had in June last year proposed a bill for the establishment of a Johor Housing and Property Institution, which would give Sultan Ibrahim authority over the institution's accounts and a direct hand in the development of real estate in Johor.

The bill, which was met with fierce opposition from various quarters, was tabled and passed by the Johor legislative assembly with amendments that either limited or removed the sultan’s power in the proposed housing board.

The amendments no longer give the sultan the power to determine the remuneration or allowances of board members in the Johor Property and Housing Commission (JPHC).

The sultan’s power to direct any person to investigate the books, accounts and transactions of the board were removed, and he does not have the power to direct the board to be wound up and dissolved.

The board does not have to submit to the ruler the accounts, an estimate of the expenses or a report of its activities, nor does it require the sultan’s approval to establish a corporation. Instead, those powers are vested solely in the state authority.

The sultan can only appoint members of the board on the advice of the menteri besar.

Additionally, either the sultan or the menteri besar can decide to revoke a member’s appointment, as opposed to the sultan having the sole authority to do so.

Individuals such as former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, legal experts, and former Johor Corporation CEO and president Tan Sri Muhammad Ali had opposed the bill, saying it contravened the Federal Constitution.

DAP lawmaker Lau Weng San had also spoken out against the bill, saying it went against the concept of constitutional monarchy.

Lau said the move was "very confusing" as Malaysia practised constitutional monarchy and not absolute monarchy, which he noted was irrelevant with time.

Giving the sultan absolute powers would indirectly affect the basis of the constitution's framework as well as change the characteristic features of the constitutional monarchy that had been practised since independence, he said.

However, Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said that the menteri besar was the automatic chairman and the sultan would act only on the advice of the menteri besar.

“Any decision on the state administration is still made by me because the executive powers rest with the menteri besar,” he was reported as saying.

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