PETALING JAYA, Jan 25 (Sin Chew Daily) – Local political analysts are of the opinion that Umno and Barisan Nasional have good chances of winning the upcoming Johor state election.
They also feel that this election will likely decide the destiny of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia based on its performance in the election.
Meanwhile, any breakthrough for Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) in its maiden election attempt will very much depend on its seat negotiations with Pakatan Harapan.
No major issues this time
Political commentator cum International Islamic University law professor Dr Nik Ahmad Kamal Nikternat Mahmod told Sin Chew Daily young voters aged above 18 who will get to vote for the first time in the election, may bring some “pleasant surprise” to the state election.
He feels that PH will be at a disadvantage if the voter turnout is low, allowing Umno to win more seats and even secure a two-thirds majority.
He explained that this is because Johor has always been a strong fortress of Umno, which won all general elections except the last one in 2018.
“There were many issues unfavorable to the government during GE14, in particular 1MDB. But things are different today. The opposition lacks any major issue to bring down the government.
“There’s no problem for Umno to win the election this time.”
There are anyway two uncertain factors, namely voter turnout and young first-time voters.
He said the Johor election will also be a battle between the two major factions within Umno, namely the one supporting party president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and the other one supporting prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
“If Umno secures two-thirds majority in the state assembly, it will put some pressure on the prime minister who hopes to hold the general election only next year after Umno’s party election.”
Nik Ahmad believes more divisions will support Ahmad Zahid if Umno wins big in Johor.
“This is an important strategy to force the PM to hold the general election early.”
He also believes MUDA will field more candidates in Johor, trying to woo the young voters. However, it remains to be seen whether the new party can get enough support, as most of its activities have been around Klang Valley so far.
As for Bersatu, he feels that it won’t be easy for the party to get as much support as in GE14.
“Bersatu will likely do as in Melaka, contesting many seats but difficult to retain the seats it currently holds because most of its seats were from Umno defections.”
If Bersatu fails badly in Johor, its survival in the Malaysian politics will be at stake.
Nik Ahmad also does not think PH can win as many seats as it did in the last election.
“PH won Johor in GE14 because of major issues. Other than lack of any major issue now, I believe the voter turnout will also be low, as many people will think it unnecessary to vote and just let Umno win, like in the case of Melaka.”
Bersatu’s survival hung in the balance
Meanwhile, local analyst Lam Choong Wah also agreed Umno has very good chances of winning the Johor state election.
“Incumbent Johor menteri besar Hasni Mohammad said dissolution of the state assembly was the prerogative of him and the Sultan. He had not consulted the allies before making the decision, and this shows his arrogance. This arrogance itself speaks volumes of his confidence.”
A second reason why Umno will win in Johor is the big environment.
“Under the pandemic many people have lost their enthusiasm as in the 2018 election. Many will not come back specifically for the election, and this gives BN-Umno very good chances of winning.”
Lam believes Umno has two purposes for this election: to erode the strength of Bersatu and to wipe out PH.
“What I have observed so far is that Bersatu is indeed very anxious, while PH has already looked for excuses for its imminent defeat, arguing that this is not the time for election and many people will not come out to vote.”
He describes the Johor election as a “live or die” battle for Bersatu.
“Umno wants to uproot Bersatu at its bastion. If Bersatu loses, its whole morale will be crushed.”
Lam feels that it is quite impossible for PH to retain its 27 seats now.
“While the fundamental support base is still there, seats won last election due to the political tsunami will be gone while borderline seats are very risky too.”
He said MUDA will lose if it contests in traditional Malay constituencies.
“MUDA’s seats are overlapping with PH’s, mainly urban and semi-urban constituencies. It depends on whether PH is willing to give up some of its seats for MUDA, otherwise a multicornered fight will only dilute the opposition’s votes and benefit Umno instead.”