Muhyiddin Yassin today expressed his hope that the Johor palace would not interfere in state administrative affairs following the state government making two U-turns in the span of two days on the age limit for youths.
The home minister said he was informed that the palace had given its views on the matter, but believed that the Johor government should be given the space to implement policies that are consistent across the country.
"I ask the (Johor) menteri besar and state executive council to meet (the palace) to explain the matter.
"It is hoped that the palace will not interfere. They can give their views, but it will be best if policies can be uniform across all states," he told journalists at the Parliament lobby.
On Monday, a statement was issued in the name of Johor Menteri Besar Dr Sahruddin Jamal announcing that the state would not follow Putrajaya's redefinition of the maximum age of youths from 40 to 30.
After Sahruddin chaired an executive council meeting the following day, exco Sheikh Umar Bagharib Ali subsequently announced that the menteri besar had consented to the state complying with the new age limit of 30.
Sheikh Umar issued another statement later that night, however, saying that the Johor government was reverting to the initial age limit of 40 after receiving "advice from several parties."
Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim also uploaded a photograph of him with Sahruddin and Sheikh Umar the same night.
Last Wednesday, the Dewan Rakyat approved the Youth Societies and Youth Development (Amendment) Bill 2019, which redefined 'youth' as those aged between 15 and 30.
This would, among others, impact the membership of youth organisations.
Following the series of contradictory statements by the Johor government, Sahruddin appeared at Parliament today to meet with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, but denied that the meeting’s purpose was to discuss the U-turns.
'Explain to palace if necessary'
Muhyiddin said he was left puzzled by the matter, as it had been debated at length in the Dewan Rakyat, with Johor MPs supporting the bill.
"We hope the Johor government will explain the matter in depth, and if necessary, the youth and sports minister (Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman) can seek an audience with the (Johor) sultan to explain.
"I was informed that there were views from the Johor palace, but this is an administrative matter, so the state government should be given the space to implement a uniform policy.
"Otherwise, there would be a mess as it (the age limit for youths) will be 40 years old in Johor and 30 years old outside of Johor," he said.
Muhyiddin said he hopes that the relationship between the government and palace can remain cordial.
"In such matters, it is okay (for the palace) to give its views, but not to an extent that it is considered as interfering in administrative affairs.
"I respect the views of Tuanku (Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar), the Johor crown prince. I'm also a Johorean and we want policies introduced at the federal level to be seen positively and this is indeed positive.
"It should be accepted and not misperceived. I hope what is being described as 'interference' will not happen," he said.
Pressed on speculation that the interference was coming from Tunku Ismail, Muhyiddin did not want to give a direct answer, stating that he only heard about such allegations from "newspapers".
"I don't know it if is real or not, but I read that was why they (Johor executive council) made U-turns. I hope it is not real," he said.
However, he said the Johor menteri besar should think carefully before acting, and explain the state government's stance to the palace if necessary.