by FAYYADH JAAFAR / pic by TMR FILE
THE upcoming Johor state election, which is expected to take place in the coming weeks, is expected to benefit Umno most.
Senior fellow at the Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research Dr Azmi Hassan said this is a result of Umno’s present relationship with PAS and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
“Particularly for Umno, both state and federal officials are lobbying for an immediate snap election. Thus, the question is not on whether or not the state election will occur, but when,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR), adding that Johor’s political environment is shaped by the precarious alliance between Umno, PAS and Bersatu.
According to Azmi, the people of Johor are extremely concerned about the state’s current political turmoil and yearn for a stable government. Therefore, a quick election should be called to allow them to choose a new leader.
“The pandemic cannot be used as an excuse to avoid holding an election. I believe that Johoreans, like the people of Melaka and Sarawak, desire a stable administration.
“They want a government that is entirely focused on governing the state to manage the pandemic and the economy effectively,” he said.
Discussing Johor’s political situation, Azmi noted that the state government led by Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad is trying to show that its hands are rather tied due to the fact that it only has a majority in the state assembly, which makes administration extremely difficult for him.
“It is going to be very difficult for Hasni to administer the state, especially when it comes to drastic decisions because he needs not only the majority, but also the mandate from the people,” Azmi added.
In assessing Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) chances in the Johor state election, Azmi said the coalition’s losses in the previous two state elections in Sarawak and Melaka should be considered.
“At this particular juncture, we look at PH, especially PKR and DAP, which, after the losses in Melaka and Sarawak, are at their lowest and weakest points.
“Thus, I feel that Umno will benefit the most from a Johor snap election,” he opined.
He added that despite Umno’s internal divisions, factionalism and leadership crisis, the election may provide an opportunity for it to reclaim lost ground.
Linking the ongoing trend of state-level elections with the federal level general elections, Azmi said if Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s Umno sweeps the state election in Johor, as it did in Melaka, he would have fewer reasons not to dissolve the Parliament.
Meanwhile, political analyst at Universiti Malaya Assoc Prof Dr Hamidin Hamid said if a state election is called, it would be a clear strategic move by Umno to ensure their best position and morally sound ability to face the general election.
“The 14th General Election (GE14) changed Johor’s political landscape but it still has its own dynamic. There are signs that the wave that changed the Johor political landscape in 2018 is losing momentum,” he told TMR.
In regards to Umno’s prospects in the upcoming state election, Hamidin said the party is currently gaining momentum in Johor.
“The coalition between Umno, PAS and Bersatu seems to be working.
“At the moment, the political situation is very stable. The call for an election is very much a strategic move by Umno to strengthen its position in the state and also to pressure the central government for a general election,” he added.
However, Hamidin said Johor does not need a snap election as the running of the state is running smoothly.
“The political understanding between the government and the Opposition is working well.
“In fact, the Opposition already made a statement that there is no need for a state election,” he said.
He added that an election will change the state’s political landscape. “Umno will undoubtedly fare better than it did in GE14.
“However, the election in Johor would weaken the Ismail Sabri’s administration at the federal level as people are still suffering from the impacts of Covid-19.
“The economic and social hardships it has caused are still visible and affecting their lives,” he added.