Crown Prince of Johor
The Crown Prince of Johor

Malaysia's Culture and Tourism Minister Nazri Aziz is embroiled in a heated exchange with the crown prince of the southern state of Johor, and it is all being done through the social media for all the world to see.

The social media exchange started on 5 June when the crown prince, Tunku Ismail Ibni Sultan Ibrahim, criticised Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak for failing to show up at a no-holds barred question and answer session called Nothing to Hide between non-governmental organisations and the prime minister.

On Johor's football team Facebook page, which he heads, the crown prince asked: "How can you have a dialogue called Nothing2Hide featuring a person who has everything to hide? Obviously he [the prime minister] won't show up."

It is believed that the forum was expected to question the role of the prime minister in the state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad, which had raked up billions of dollars in debt, ChannelNewsAsia reported.

However police had advised Najib not to attend the forum due to security concerns.

Coming out in support of the prime minister, Nazri told a local newspaper The Star that the crown prince should keep out of politics. "Otherwise, he will be subject to the same rule and we will whack him ... Rulers and royal families are above the law.

"If you want to be a politician then say so, so we can hit you back for what you say. But if you hold an important post, as a royalty in a state and start saying things, if we hit you back, don't get angry."

The crown prince replied to the minister via Facebook saying: "You are a minister, not a God from the heavens who lords above everybody. If I got such a reply, then what chances do the rest of the people have?"

Tunku Ismail said: "Do not use me to divert the attention from national issues. This country needs politicians who are clean and transparent, who carry out their duties with sincerity and integrity."

The crown prince said that although he was not a politician, every person has a right to voice their opinions, lamenting that this was not the case in Malaysia today.

Minister being investigated by police under Sedition law

In a twist to the highly public exchange, Malaysia's chief of police, the Inspector-General of Police, Khalid Abu Bakar has said that the culture minister will be investigated under the Sedition Act 1948 over his statement warning the prince to stay out of politics.

Nazri was quoted by the Malay Mail Online as saying that he will cooperate with the investigation but noted: "How can it be fair when the prince and all members of royalty are protected in the Sedition Act but others aren't."

The Sedition Act was introduced by the British colonial government in 1948 in its fight against Communist insurgents but the law has since been expanded by the Barisan Nasional government to ban any act, speech or publication that brings contempt against the government or Malaysia's nine royal sultans, the BBC reports.

It also prohibits people from inciting hatred between different races and religions, or questioning the special position of the ethnic Malay majority and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak.