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Three-cornered fight yet again, but Muhyiddin fine in Pagoh

Voters there say that the labels of 'backdoor government' make no difference to them.

Teoh Yee Shen
2 minute read
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Perikatan Nasional chairman Muhyiddin Yassin spends time with his supporters at a programme in Kampung Jawa, Lenga in Pagoh on Nov 17. Photo: Bernama
Perikatan Nasional chairman Muhyiddin Yassin spends time with his supporters at a programme in Kampung Jawa, Lenga in Pagoh on Nov 17. Photo: Bernama

In the parliamentary constituency of Pagoh in Johor, support for the incumbent, Muhyiddin Yassin, is riding high ahead of the Nov 19 polls where the former prime minister is looking to defend his seat for a whopping ninth time. 

Muhyiddin retained his seat at the 2018 polls on a Pakatan Harapan (PH) ticket, winning 55.21% of the votes against Ahmad Nawfal Mahfodz of PAS and Umno's Ismail Mohamed. 

His seven victories before that were notched under the Barisan Nasional (BN) banner, where he represented Umno until the 13th general election in 2013. 

He was sacked as deputy prime minister in 2015 following criticism of Najib Razak's handling of the 1MDB scandal, and expelled from Umno the next year. 

In 2016, he formed Bersatu together with Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and the party contested under PH in the general election two years later, alongside PKR, DAP and Amanah. 

It left PH in 2020, becoming a founding member of Perikatan Nasional (PN), which Muhyiddin is representing in Pagoh this time around. 

A resident who introduced himself as Jaafar said Muhyiddin had made huge contributions to the constituency throughout the years. 

The 69-year-old also said he was grateful for the assistance he had received from Muhyiddin on a personal level. 

"When my children were trying to further their studies at Universiti Teknologi Mara, we had no money," he said. 

"I went to Muhyiddin for help. In two hours, he had helped my children with all of the necessities to study at university, including pocket money." 

Muhyiddin, who was menteri besar of Johor from 1986 to 1995, came under fire from his former colleagues after his party's exit from PH, with labels of "backdoor government" a frequent refrain after PN took over Putrajaya. 

But in Pagoh, residents appear unfazed by the calls. 

Their focus is, for the most part, on his long years of service in the constituency. 

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, Jaafar also recalled how Muhyiddin had established a university hub in Pagoh which led to the creation of job opportunities for the locals. 

"My friends work there as security guards and caterers, and they are able to feed their families," he said. 

His wife, Kak Yah, meanwhile said that they had never felt left behind in Pagoh with Muhyiddin as their MP. 

"He doesn't even have to campaign for himself in Pagoh, we can take care of Pagoh on his behalf," she said. 

Awang Junaidi meanwhile has been a voter in Pagoh since GE11. He said he had heard many negative comments about Muhyiddin and his "backdoor government", but had never believed any of them. 

"As far as I know, he is a man with credibility," he added. 

"Muhyiddin should be heading the government. In March 2020, PN became the government at the right time." 

At the 15th general election, Muhyiddin is once again facing a three-way fight against opponents from BN and PH. Razali Ibrahim is representing BN while Iskandar Shah is standing for PH.

Razali, a three-term MP for Muar, lost his seat to Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman at the 2018 general election.