KUALA LUMPUR – April 4, 2018: Analysts contacted today remain confident that the Barisan Nasional will retain its hold on Johor despite reports suggesting that the opposition Pakatan Harapan is focusing on Johor as its frontline state in the general elections.
Associate Professor Dr. Ahmad Martadha Mohammed of Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) simply sees Johor as a stronghold of Umno and BN, adding that while Pakatan may win some urban seats, it is not likely to be as successful in the rural areas.
But Martadha anticipates that having former prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad may affect the voting pattern in the state.
Johor, the birthplace of Umno, was for a long time a fortress of the country’s most dominant party and its safe deposit come election time, but in 2013 lost a fair bit of ground to the then Pakatan Rakyat opposition pact.
From a mere one Parliamentary seat won in 2008 against the 26 available and only six of 56 state seats, the opposition increased its Parliamentary total to five in 2013 plus 18 state seats.
It is for this reason that the present Pakatan sees the momentum as being in its favour, this time with the Malay-based Pribumi Bersatu chaired by Mahathir in the forefront.
Another political analyst from UUM, Assoc. Prof. Mohd. Azizuddin Mohd, Sani, also think that it’s not going to be easy for any party to dislodge the BN government in Johor.
“PH does have a chance to win some seats but it is impossible for it to take over the state because it is a BN stronghold.”
Azizuddin is confident that even the Mahathir factor will not be sufficient.
“Johoreans do not have the same spirit as Kedahans when it concerns Dr Mahathir. The people of Johor tend to vote for the party instead of the personality,” he said.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Jeniri Amir of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak is another who believes that it would be almost impossible for Pakatan to capture Johor.
The early signs that Pakatan would again focus on Johor include the recent announcement that state DAP chief Liew Chin Tong will contest the Malay-majority Ayer Hitam Parliamentary seat against incumbent Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong, the MCA deputy president.
Liew, who is currently the Kluang MP, had also recently stated that several constituencies considered to be Umno strongholds had been identified as targets to be seized by Pakatan.