By P Ramasamy

GEORGETOWN, Penang--The coming Johore state elections scheduled in March 2022 will be much watched.

The results might foretell what possibly could happen in the next federal elections?

Three political coalitions will be involved in the battle for hearts and minds of the voters in Johor. They are the BN with UMNO in the lead, PN led by Bersatu and the PH by PKR.

As far as UMNO is concerned, the Johor state elections are all about gaining an electoral foothold in the country.

The recent Melaka elections and the much earlier by-elections have given confidence to Umno to go it alone with the other BN component parties.

I would say that the call for the Johor state elections was the work of UMNO. In fact, the party wants to test its popularity in Johor before pressuring the federal government to call for the general elections.

If UMNO/BN wins the state elections, the momentum to hold an early general election will be geared up.

National popularity is one thing, but UMNO wants to ensure that elections could be held early enough before the court makes decisions on those charged or even convicted for corruption.

For the PN coalition headed by Bersatu, the breakaway faction from UMNO, supported by PAS, the Johor state elections are all about its relevance in Malaysian politics.

Or alternatively, it is do or die, for the PN coalition.

It has come to the point where PAS deserted by UMNO has no choice but to go along with Bersatu. Bersatu is unsure about making a difference in Johor politics, the “poster boy” Muhyiddin is not even keen to contest.

Malaysia’s alternative opposition coalition or PH is the third coalition component in the elections. It’s strength was to some extent reduced in both the Melaka and Sarawak state elections.  

In both the elections, DAP seats were reduced to about half whereas PKR was wiped out. Amanah managed to win only one seat in Melaka.

In the Johore state elections, it was agreed within PH that PKR would use its own party logo whereas DAP and Amanah would use the coalition’s logo.

PKR, given its poor performance in the Melaka and Sarawak state elections, thinks that the change of logo might endear itself to the Malay voters.

It is argued that the PH’s logo was identified with the former prime minister Mahathir Mohammed’s stay in power for 22 months.

It would be an uphill battle for PH to make a comeback to the strength and resilience it had before the 2018 general elections.

I am not sure about the impact of the change of logo, but PH as a whole is surely handicapped with the memorandum of understanding  (MOU) with the federal government.

While the MOU might have provided some representational and monetary gains to the opposition, it is surely an obstacle when it comes to oppositional politics.