PUTRAJAYA: Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim had made some personal demands to Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman which made the latter “uncomfortable”, the Youth and Sports Minister claimed.
The minister said he was once close to the Johor Crown Prince but their relationship soured when Tunku Ismail made those demands.
“He (Tunku Ismail) 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 bringing demands which may rattle the sports scene,” said Syed Saddiq in an interview with the media at his ministry here.
The special interview was held in conjunction with Pakatan Harapan's first year as the federal government.
Syed Saddiq revealed that one of the demands made was for a high-profile boxing match featuring Manny Pacquiao on July 15 to be cancelled.
The WBA welterweight championship match between the Filipino superstar and Lucas Matthysse was held at Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur.
“Look back at the hosting of the Manny Pacquiao boxing match.
“There were demands for a last-minute cancellation which would have caused a diplomatic crisis because six ministers from the Philippines were here to watch it.
“Tens of millions of investment would have been lost because it was to be broadcast live on a hundred international channels.
“Datuk Zaiton (the 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 while he respected 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.