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BN secures landslide win in Johor state polls

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition has won the Johor state assembly poll with a two-thirds majority, posting a strong comeback that could bolster its confidence in pressing for an early general election.

Barisan Nasional supporters at the coalition’s command centre at the Johor Umno Liaison Hall in Johor Baru on March 12, 2022.

Barisan Nasional supporters at the coalition’s command centre at the Johor Umno Liaison Hall in Johor Baru on March 12, 2022.

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition has won the Johor state assembly polls with a two-thirds majority, posting a strong comeback that could bolster its confidence in pressing for an early general election.

Late on Saturday night, hours after polling closed, the Election Commission (EC) announced that BN had won 40 out of 56 state seats.

It is a sharp reversal of its performance in the 2018 general election, when BN won only 19 seats in Johor and the Pakatan Harapan (PH) pact formed the state government for the first time.

This time round, PH could only secure 12 seats, with 10 by the Democratic Action Party and just one by the Anwar Ibrahim-led Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

The Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition helmed by former prime minister and Johor stalwart Muhyiddin Yassin also performed poorly, winning three seats. 

The remaining seat went to the youth-based Malaysian United Democratic Alliance.

At a press conference after the EC declared BN the winner, coalition chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also president of BN lynchpin party the United Malays National Organisation (Umno), said he would nominate Mr Hasni Mohammad to continue as Johor chief minister.

In his victory speech, Mr Zahid also paid tribute to convicted former prime minister Najib Razak, who had campaigned for BN in Johor.

“Even though all sorts of accusations and lies as high as a mountain are hurled at him, even though he is insulted all over the country, his spirit remains strong,” said Mr Zahid, flanked by Najib, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan and Mr Hasni.

“He has faced all sorts of trials and tests, but he has extraordinary resilience,” Mr Zahid added.

“BN’s win in Johor is also a gift for ‘Bossku’.”

Najib, whose self-styled nickname is Bossku, was in July 2020 sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined RM210 million on seven charges of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering of funds from SRC International, a former subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

His appeal is pending at Federal Court.

Mr Hasni also thanked Najib for campaigning for him: “If I am BN’s poster boy (for the Johor elections), Najib is our picture boy.”

The 63-year-old Johor Umno chief had earlier secured a comfortable majority of 5,859 out of 10,896 voters in a four-cornered contest in the Benut state seat.

BN’s landslide win in Johor, coming on the back of it also winning a two-thirds majority in the Melaka elections in November last year, is likely to see increased pressure from those aligned to Najib to get PM Ismail to hold a snap general election to ride on its upturn in fortunes.

Mr Ismail, a Ummo vice-president, was appointed prime minister in August 2021.

The current government made up of BN and the PN pact led by Mr Muhyiddin has just a four-seat majority in Parliament.

When asked to comment on PN’s results in securing only three seats, Mr Muhyiddin said he took responsibility for it.

“If some party members feel they are upset by my performance, know that I have done my best,” he told a press conference.

On whether he would face calls for his resignation, Mr Muhyiddin said he was prepared to do so, but any such decision would be bound by the consensus achieved among the coalition’s component parties.

“I am prepared any time. If they want me out, it is acceptable for me,” he said.

State PH chief Aminolhuda Hassan — who himself lost in the Parit Yaani seat on Saturday — said that the defeat was “unexpected”.

He cited low voter turnout, split votes and the racist playbook allegedly employed by BN as among the reasons for the opposition coalition’s poor showing.

“Of course, PH, which was once the government, is used to the role because the opposition will not give up.

“We will hold a post-mortem to pinpoint all our weaknesses, shortcomings and mistakes throughout this state election so that we can bounce back,” he said during a press conference at the PH command centre in Senai on Saturday night.

In 2018, PH, through its alliance with Bersatu at the time, won 36 seats before subsequent party-hopping whittled that down to 26.

The Johor state election was triggered in January after Mr Hasni sought the dissolution of the state assembly despite still holding a one-seat majority, following the death of former chief minister besar Osman Sapian who was the Bersatu assemblyman for Kempas. AGENCIES

Related topics

Malaysia Johor Malaysian politics Johor elections

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