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Analysts tell who will gain if Pejuang, Muda join the fray in Johor

While no political party has yet announced a candidate list, many have stated their interest in contesting the Johor state election.

Azzman Abdul Jamal
2 minute read
A motorcyclist pauses at a junction decorated with party flags ahead of the Melaka state election last November.
A motorcyclist pauses at a junction decorated with party flags ahead of the Melaka state election last November.

Any arrival on the scene of newer opposition groups like Muda and Pejuang at the Johor state polls will likely cause more split votes for Pakatan Harapan (PH), ultimately benefiting Barisan Nasional (BN), several analysts say.

They said such a situation would also complicate the goal of toppling BN in the state, given that Johor is the birthplace of Umno and still considered its stronghold.

Ahmad Martadha Mohamed of Universiti Utara Malaysia said it would make it more difficult for PH to gain the support of young voters if Muda decides to contest the Johor election.

“Bear in mind that the 700,000 voters registered in Johor also include young voters who in the end may wind up the kingmakers,” he said.

“Not many of the youth support BN, especially in urban areas.”

But while Muda might have a significant impact in the polls, James Chin of the University of Tasmania said many other new parties would also be eager to try their luck.

He said this would only cause more uncertainty for parties looking to defeat BN.

“Having said that, it is still too early to predict what will happen as none of the parties have announced their candidates yet,” he added.

PH chairman Anwar Ibrahim previously said that his pact was open to working with other opposition blocs such as Pejuang, Warisan and Muda.

At the 14th general election in 2018, PH won 36 of the seats in the Johor state assembly.

However, it lost control of the state government after Bersatu’s exit from the PH coalition.

Since the dissolution of the Johor assembly last week, several newer parties have stated their interest in contesting the election to come, with Pejuang saying it would field candidates in 42 of the 56 seats available.

PN, BN’s main contender

Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said BN’s main competition would come from Perikatan Nasional (PN) as its chairman Muhyiddin Yassin is a recognised figure in the state.

But he said it would be difficult for Muhyiddin’s Bersatu to pull off a repeat of its achievements in 2018 as Umno still held sway in Johor.

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, he said a “people’s tsunami” would not likely take place.

“This will also make it hard for PH to match its achievements in 2018, what more pull off a victory in Johor,” he said.

Chin meanwhile said Pejuang might be on shaky footing given that its leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad would be unlikely to participate in the campaign due to health issues.

“Even if Pejuang runs in the election, its election machinery is very limited in Johor.

“So it will be interesting to see who they field. With Mahathir in hospital, the focus will definitely be on the party’s achievements,” he said, adding that in any event, the veteran leader is not particularly popular in Johor.

The Johor legislative assembly was dissolved on Jan 22, paving the way for the fourth state election since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, after the Sabah, Melaka and Sarawak polls.

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