The Star: Finally, Your Royal Highness, what are your wishes for 2016?
Sultan Ibrahim: I hope my state government’s finances do not go back into the red. I congratulate my Mentri Besar (Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin) for ensuring that Johor was able to amass a huge surplus during my rule in the last five years. He is a fast learner.
I always tell him to run the state like he is running a company. He must not only be a good businessman but also have the discipline of a soldier when administering Johor.
But during an economic slowdown, we have to be fighters. That is why we need more attractive incentives and stimuli to lure investors.
We must also concentrate on building more affordable homes to bring back all the communities, including the Malays, Chinese and Indians, into our town.
I also want all civil servants to own homes in our town areas.
I also want to remind developers not to set their selling prices too high, which will result in people not being able to buy homes.
With the Ibrahim International Business District (IIBD), we will become a financial hub and there will be no need to open hazardous factories.
My wish is for the government to have a relook at all the heavy industries in Pasir Gudang. Find out which industries consume too much water resulting in my rakyat facing water shortages in some areas.
We also need to look at our dangerous industries as I have been told that if a certain factory leaks, it will pose a threat to people living within a 25km radius.
So, it is time to look for the government to reconsider these dangers as Johor is not a dumping ground.
My people’s safety and health is my paramount priority.
I do not want a chemical disaster like the one in Bhopal, India, which claimed thousands of lives in the past.
I also want to start the Sultan Ibrahim Foundation to construct affordable houses for my people. A working paper is being drawn up and our main aim is not to make money.
That means whatever the cost we use to build, that is the same price we will sell it at to the people.
This foundation is aimed at looking after Bangsa Johor as I want each Johorean to own a home. I am very concerned about the problems faced by the people due to rising costs of living.
I hope our politicians will devote their time and energy to deal with the bread and butter issues.
The rakyat is having a difficult time coping with the increasing cost of food, transport and other essential items.
My advice to the politicians, especially those from Johor, is to be sensitive to the needs of the people. Please do not waste time creating news headlines for the wrong reasons. Stop racist and religious rhetoric and work for the people.
For sure, I hope the politicians will not sow distrust and suspicions among the people by using such sensitive issues to fan uneasiness and tension. We must remain united to face the economic and political challenges.
I do not want politicians to use race or religion to exploit the sentiments of the people to cover their incompetence.
Let me warn them that if any of these politicians are from Johor, whether in government or opposition, I will personally summon them to give a piece of my mind.
I want the people of Johor to remain united and not to let anyone split them. The people of Johor must place priority on stability and unity.