Johor Polls: Contesting Parties Should Not Be Overconfident

Johor Polls - With so many parties coming in, it is not a walk in the park for those contesting - NMH Graphics by DH

The upcoming Johor polls is not going to be a walk in the park for Barisan Nasional (BN), not to mention the other parties after a few drastic strategies have been taken by the differing parties this time around.

The first threat for BN will be Muar MP Syed Saddiq’s Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) making its first electoral entry and the 18-20 age bracket youngsters registered automatically casting their ballots for the first time.

There are 749,731 young voters out of the 2.5 million voters in Johor eligible to cast their votes compared to 1.8 million voters in the 14th general election (GE14).

The amendment on the electoral eligibility age of those 18 and above in the country and automatic voter registration was officially gazetted last Wednesday by the Election Commission (EC) after obtaining the consent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.

Syed Saddiq has succeeded in making himself the icon for the youngsters who are better known as the ‘WeChat’ voters. They see him as an idol.

The former youth and sports minister uses many methods that can flatter the young. He has been the trend in Twitter and tik-tok platforms which other political parties have failed to do.

We have yet to see BN fully capitalising on these platforms to their full potential. There are not many programs conducted by BN for youngsters.

It is an open secret that MUDA is linked with Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) DAP as Syed Saddiq could always be seen with its leaders and media reports have stated that PH is going to have talks with Saddiq to have a pact with them. The outcome will not surprise us if Sadiq gives a nod to them, especially if it involves some form of capital injection to further develop this newly-registered party.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, on the other hand, has managed to convince PH’s supreme council to use its KEADILAN (PKR) logo to contest in Johor polls. DAP and Amanah will be using the PH logo.

This is indeed a strategy to overcome the terrifying defeat PKR went through in two state elections; Melaka and Sarawak, when in fact it was PKR’s logo that was used in GE14 nationwide to unseat BN who ruled for decades.

PKR seems to be trying its luck to see if its logo still has value if they, like BN, move solo. It is too early to decide if the two-time sodomy convict’s strategy will work.

Another BN opponent Perikatan Nasional (PN) with Bersatu in the driving seat is also making a pact with PH. A reliable source from Bersatu has revealed the party is considering making a pact with PH without DAP.

Not sure if PH will agree to Bersatu on this but let’s not waste our time going into details of this as Bersatu has lost the plot and waiting to be buried anytime soon. Bersatu is full of ego and that ego is going to kill them.

Do we need to discuss former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s Pejuang? No need as it is good as gone under his son Mukhriz Mahathir. Mukhriz is a spoiled brat that needs to be spoon-fed by his father.

Lacking In Inclusiveness

BN is still lacking in its inclusiveness although it has race-based component parties like MCA and MIC. BN is still moving using the race cards that are not being used by PH and getting MUDA to work with them (PH) is an example.

MUDA is well accepted by youngsters and PH is accepted by non-Malays.

BN should be using these methods. One would argue Umno/BN don’t need the non-Malays to vote for them, but how are they going to get 2/3rd in Parliament without the non-Malay votes?

History has proven BN was powerful with the support of the non-Malays previously.

Professor Dr Sivamurugan Pandian of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Penang, feels that the strategy and intervention used in Melaka should be used again in Johor.

<meta charset=utf 8>BN has always been focusing on stability on well being and also inclusiveness thats why I think the multi racial multi ethnic angle is the best to portray in Johor Professor Dr Sivamurugan of USM said Facebook pic

“I believe if the strategy and intervention used in Melaka, if used again in Johor, maybe we’ll see better results compared to 2018.

“BN has always been focusing on stability, on well-being and also inclusiveness that’s why I think the multi-racial, multi-ethnic angle is the best to portray in Johor,” Dr Sivamurugan said.

Dr Sivamurugan also said with the opposition’s announcement that PKR will use its logo whereby Amanah and DAP are using the PH logo is an advantage to BN.

“They (BN) can tell the others they are still united, the integration among their parties are there compared to their opponents when PKR have announced that they will use their logo instead of the coalition’s (PH) logo,” he said.

When asked by NMH about the impact of new 18 years and above automatic voter registration, Dr Sivamuragan said it will not have an immediate impact yet.

“I don’t think the Undi 18 will not have an impact just yet mainly because maybe the parents would also influence them not to go out to vote so we can expect a low turnout from this group, so it’s still too early to determine.

“I strongly believe that working patterns will still follow the family group, the information that they get from social media or any other platforms and also maybe some have already decided that they want to vote for a particular party, but in the end for me, what is more important right now definitely would be to what extend Umno/BN will be able to ask their loyal voters to come out and vote,” the professor added.

Consider BN Direct Candidate For Johor

BN should consider fielding ‘Direct Candidates’ in Johor although the state is supposed to be Umno’s stronghold and its place of origin on 10 May 1946.

“BN candidate would be an option as much when the late Adenan Satem used it in the Sarawak state election back in 2015.

“Maybe if the political parties agree and the MB would want to see some candidates out of the political parties, I think others should embrace and welcome the decision, because again what matters the most is to win the election,” Dr Sivamurugan said.

This strategy has proven to be a success in Sarawak’s 11th state election under the late Adenan Satem. The then BN Sarawak fielded 13 candidates and won 11 seats.

Cameron Highlands by-election is another example where retired senior police officer Ramli Mohd Nor, a native of the Semai tribe was nominated as the candidate. He defeated DAP M. Manoharan and two other independent candidates with a 3,238 majority. Ramli later joined Umno.

BN should start looking for candidates from NGOs, professionals and scholars locally. Nominating these fresh candidates would show the coalition has ‘reformed’ and will be useful in the coming GE15. These candidates should be majority Malays with those from other races placed accordingly.

Bring Back The 1Malaysia Approach

1Malaysia is a concept introduced by former Prime Minister Najib Razak to promote national unity focusing on eight values which are high-performance culture, accuracy, knowledge, innovation, integrity, strong will, loyalty and wisdom.

Many would argue that it was a failure. It was not. It failed because of the hatred and negative perception instilled by PH (Bersatu included).

Najib also introduced a few public services under the 1Malaysia concept such as 1Malaysia clinics and convenience stores which were abolished when PH under Mahathir called it a “waste of resources”.

Now, if you talk to a commoner in the street, they will tell you what they miss from these 1Malaysia public services that were brought down by Mahathir.

BN should start promoting this concept which people are missing and some are regretting having voted for PH and bringing them into power.

Reminding people of what they have been missing after BN’s defeat would be an added advantage to the coalition. Unfortunately, only one person is seen doing the job – Najib, while others are promoting themselves.

Hope BN can pull up their socks and work towards getting two-thirds in Parliament, because, let’s face it – a resounding victory in PRN Johor is a jumpstart for PRU15. And BN is the balm needed to get the country back on its tracks. Don’t just believe us, ask the man in the street, the B40 community, the M40 and T40 whose businesses have been badly affected. – New Malaysia Herald

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Muralitharan Ramachandran