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In Johor, vascular surgeon throws hat into election ring once more for PN

Dr Mohd Mazri Yahya hopes to strengthen the opposition voice in the state.

Ahmad Mustakim Zulkifli
3 minute read
Perikatan Nasional's candidate for Simpang Jeram, Dr Mohd Mazri Yahya, speaks in an interview with MalaysiaNow.
Perikatan Nasional's candidate for Simpang Jeram, Dr Mohd Mazri Yahya, speaks in an interview with MalaysiaNow.

Johor PAS deputy commissioner Dr Mohd Mazri Yahya is no stranger to the election ring, having contested for polls several times before albeit to no avail. 

And at the Simpang Jeram by-election on Sept 9, the vascular consultant will be gunning for victory once more, representing Perikatan Nasional (PN) against Pakatan Harapan (PH) and one other independent candidate. 

Speaking to MalaysiaNow ahead of the weekend election, Mazri said PN would be able to function as a stronger opposition force if he emerged victorious. 

"This is unique in Johor," he said. "While at the federal level they promote the PH-BN government, in Johor, PH's involvement in the state administration is minimal.

"In the state assembly, PH's position is still on the fence. We don't know if they are with the government or the opposition." 

For its part, meanwhile, he said PN provided checks and balances, and an additional seat for the opposition would lend strength to its voice. 

The Simpang Jeram by-election was called following the death of incumbent Salahuddin Ayub, the domestic trade and cost of living minister, in July. 

It is being held alongside the by-election for Pulai, a parliamentary seat also held by Salahuddin. 

Salahuddin, the Amanah deputy president, had won Simpang Jeram with 8,749 votes, defeating PN candidate Zarul Salleh who obtained 6,350 votes as well as BN candidate Lokman Md Don who came in third with 6,062 votes. 

The state seat comes under the Bakri parliamentary constituency which is held by PH.

The Johor government as a whole is led by BN, which won 40 of the 56 legislative assembly seats at the state election last year. 

PH and Muda won 13 while PN won just three. 

The position of PH and Muda however remains ambiguous, unlike in other states where they form a cohesive bloc.

At the upcoming by-election, Mazri faces PH candidate Nazri Abdul Rahman and independent S Jeganathan.

About 52% of voters in the state constituency are Malays. 

Direction of Umno voters

Mazri said PN was also targeting Umno voters in its efforts to take the state.

"Among Umno voters, there are three groups: 70% side with PN, 20% are on the fence and may not turn out to vote, and 10% remain with Umno," he said. 

He is also banking on the discharge granted to Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to sway more votes towards PN, including from the non-Malays who continue to support PH. 

"What Zahid did was to save himself, instead of defending the fate of Najib Razak who is still behind bars," he said, referring to the former prime minister who is serving a 12-year sentence for corruption in the SRC International case. 

And while a recent study by Universiti Teknologi Mara showed the PH candidate leading the popularity race in Simpang Jeram, Mazri said this was a response to himself as a contender.

"The findings of studies can differ from one study to the next," he said. 

"Acceptance in the field is much higher than what is said in that study." 

Mazri, who lost his deposit in the contest for Pulai at the 14th general election, added that PN's support had likewise grown.

He said he also hoped to work with Johor Menteri Besar Onn Hafiz Ghazi, a popular figure in the state, despite coming from different political blocs. 

"My mission is to unite everyone in one pact," he said. "There should be a return to the Muafakat Nasional agreement. 

"I would be happy to work with him for the good of Johor."