The Singapore Straits Times has claimed that Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the rulers are in a stalemate over the next chief justice.
Quoting sources, the report said the prime minister submitted the name of the candidate who has been chosen to replace Richard Malanjum as chief justice earlier this month to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
However, Istana Negara has not reciprocated.
The Straits Times then quoted a source, whom it described as someone “close to a senior monarch”, claiming that the rulers wanted to send a message to the Pakatan Harapan administration.
Declining to be named due to the “sensitivity of the matter”, the source said: “They have kept mum, passing back the message that they are no rubber stamps."
Last Friday, when commenting on Malanjum's replacement, Mahathir said: "I already have a candidate."
Meanwhile, the Straits Times also quoted an unnamed aide to the prime minister stating that the next chief justice would be a Muslim.
"There is no way the next CJ is non-Muslim," the aide had said.
Over the past weeks, Mahathir's ties with the rulers, particularly the Johor palace, had been strained over several issues.
The prime minister was at loggerheads with the southern state's ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar and crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim over the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the choice of the Johor menteri besar.
Mahathir said if rulers are allowed to decide who becomes prime minister or menteri besar, then Malaysia would cease to be a democratic nation.
Last week, when speaking at a function in Putrajaya, the prime minister cautioned about granting absolute powers to rulers.
Back in June last year, the appointment of Tommy Thomas as the country’s attorney-general also ran into hiccups when it was alleged that the rulers were concerned over the non-Muslim's nomination by Mahathir.
Current PKR president Anwar Ibrahim has stated at the time that although Malay rulers were concerned, the government was able to assure them that Thomas would uphold the status of Islam and the interests of the Malays, in accordance with the Federal Constitution.
The then Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V eventually consented to the appointment.
Malaysiakini is unable to independently verify the claims in the Straits Times’ report.