In March 2018, political analyst Kamarul Zaman Yusof found himself in an awkward position when Dr Mahathir Mohamad gatecrashed a forum assessing whether he was too old to be prime minister.
Mahathir, then 93, had tweeted: “There is a forum on whether Tun M is too old to be PM. I am present. I am here guys. Say it to my face.”
Prior to his arrival, Kamarul had argued that Mahathir was unfit for the position.
Since then, the academic has been writing for PAS organ Harakah Online, often expressing views critical of the Pakatan Harapan government.
However, in his latest article, Kamarul expressed support for Mahathir with regard to the latter's position on appointing the next menteri besar of Johor, which has put the premier at loggerheads with the palace.
“I disagree with attempts to reduce the status, position and role of the Malay rulers. I also differ on many things with those who are vociferous in stating this (those critical of the rulers).
“But in this matter, I have no doubts on being on the same page with Mahathir,” he said.
“The concept of absolute power cannot be defended from the perspective of the constitution or the country's laws. It also cannot be defended from a religious perspective,” he added.
Among others, Kamarul also cited an article penned by the late Perak ruler, Sultan Azlan Shah, when the latter was lord president.
In the article titled “The Role of Constitutional Rulers”, the academic quoted Sultan Azlan as stating that while the rulers have the discretion in appointing a menteri besar, they have no other choice but to appoint an assemblyperson nominated by the party, which won the majority in the general election, to the post.
“His Highness (Sultan Azlan) stressed that if a ruler ignores the desire of the party and appoints an assemblyperson who is unable to command the confidence of the majority of the assemblypersons, this could lead to a vote of no-confidence against the person (appointed), which would result in the ruler appointing another (assemblyperson) or dissolving the state assembly,” he added.
Kamarul said the rulers' discretion arises in two situations - when no party has a clear majority in the state legislative assembly or if there is dissatisfaction towards the person nominated for the post.
With regard to the second scenario, he said the ruler could then refer to the party's leaders to reconsider their choice.
“The fact that there have been several incidents where Malay rulers have appointed a menteri besar who has no confidence of the majority of the assemblypersons or asked a party which obtained the majority in the general election to submit more than one name (for the menteri besar post) cannot be used as an argument to legitimise it (this practice),” he added.
Yesterday, Mahathir said if the rulers have the power to pick the prime minister or menteri besar, then Malaysia would not be a democratic nation.
The prime minister was responding to Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar telling "certain parties" not to meddle in the state's affairs.
The menteri besar post became vacant after Bersatu's Osman Sapian resigned on Monday.
The fall of Johor, which is the birthplace of Umno, in the last general election came as a shock since it was considered a BN fortress.
Furthermore, the sultan and crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim had also expressed views which were seen as critical of Mahathir in the run-up to the national polls, which pundits expected to favour BN.