Opposition eyeing Johor in last polls (Updated)

JOHOR is the state to watch in the next general election following a strong bid by the Opposition to capture it in the last polls.

According to a report in Oriental Daily News today, the heavyweights from all four Pakatan Harapan (PH) component parties will contest in the state to max out the Opposition's chances in the traditional Barisan Nasional's (BN) stronghold.

As the birthplace of Umno, Johor holds special significance for the party.

The party has never felt threatened in Johor, even in the 13th general election (GE13) when the wind of change was blowing high, the Opposition took down only five of the 25 parliamentary seats.

By all accounts, it was the best ever results for the Opposition, which deems it a positive development and wants to go all out to increase its seat tally in GE14.

There was no mass resignation of Johor Umno members when former Umno strongmen Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Johor-based Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin quit the party to set up Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu). But only time can tell if Johor Umno can overcome another strong challenge from Pakatan to extend its splendid polls record when GE14 is called, latest by next August.

It is understood that Pakatan parties will field their top guns — Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Nurul Izzah Anwar, Salahuddin Ayub, Lim Kit Siang — in Johor for GE14.

Apart from DAP strongman Lim Kit Siang, who is expected to defend his seat in Gelang Patah; Muhyiddin, who will lead Pribumi's charge in northern Johor; and Parti Amanah Negara deputy president Sallahuddin Ayub, who is expected to stay in Johor, word has it that PKR heavyweights such as vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar, information chief Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh and Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon will also move to contest down south.

A Pakatan source said barring any unforeseen circumstances, Lim will remain in Johor but it is up to the coalition's top leadership to decide on the seat to contest.

"Kit Siang will stay on in Johor. He will either defend Gelang Patah or move to Johor Baru. It depends which seats are allocated to DAP," said the source.

The source said apart from Muhyiddin, (Bersatu) Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman will also head south to contest a parliamentary seat.