Syed Saddiq: Ties with TMJ soured after ‘uncomfortable demands’ were not met

PUTRAJAYA: Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman claims that Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim had made some demands that made him “uncomfortable”.

The Youth and Sports Minister said he was once close to the Johor Crown Prince, but their relationship soured when Tunku Ismail made those demands.

“He was someone whom I was close to, especially before the 14th General Election.

“But before the election, there were some specific demands that he made that I couldn't fulfil. The demands were political in nature, and made me immensely uncomfortable.

“But I had to say to him I could not fulfil them, and must stick to my beliefs and principles.

“If you remember, the day I announced my candidacy in Muar was the day he wrote the open letter asking Johoreans not to ‘change ship’.

“After the election, we met up twice. There were also some specific demands made which I could not fulfil because I personally believe in not interfering in business and making demands which may rattle the sports scene,” said Syed Saddiq in an interview with the media at his ministry here Tuesday (April 23).

He said that one of the demands Tunku Ismail made was for a high-profile boxing match featuring Manny Pacquiao on July 15 last year to be cancelled.

The WBA welterweight championship match between the Philippine superstar and Lucas Matthysse was held at Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur.

“There were demands for a last-minute cancellation, which would have caused a diplomatic crisis because six ministers from the Philippines had been invited over (for it).

“Tens of millions of investment would have been lost because it was to be broadcast live on a hundred international channels.

“Datuk Zaiton (recently retired Sports Commissioner Datuk Zaiton Othman) and I had to seek an audience with Tunku Ismail.

“This (demand for the cancellation) was something I could not defend,” said Syed Saddiq.

The minister said that while he respects Tunku Ismail as a member of the royalty, his priority would always be towards the rakyat.

“Being a young politician, I personally believe if I don’t stick to my politics or principles, I will lose myself very early on.

“For the sake of what? To appeal to specific groups? My intention in politics is to clean Malaysia and its politics.

“I still humbly respect him (Tunku Ismail) as the future Sultan of Johor, but our disagreements will always be there.

“In the end, the rakyat will be my priority,” said Syed Saddiq.

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