JOHOR BAHARU, April 4- The war drums have been sounded for the 13th General Election and Johor is set to witness the most critical clash of all between Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR). DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang has been chosen as the opposition party’s ‘parachute’ candidate in the Gelang Patah parliamentary constituency and is determined to wreck BN’s stronghold on the southern state which is its ‘fixed deposit’.
Despite a political tsunami during the previous general election, Johor BN stood strong by winning 25 of the 26 parliamentary and 50 of the 56 state assembly seats in the state. State BN chairman and Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman is comfortable at the helm and confident that Johor will remain BN’s stronghold even in the face of stiff competition from the opposition.
Johor is the golden goose of domestic and foreign investment under BN rule, especially with the Iskandar Malaysia project, launched in 2006, which has drawn RM110 billion to date and providing hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Apart from Iskandar Malaysia, Johor is also flooded by investors attracted to the Pengerang Integrated Petrochemical Complex (PIPC) which will be completed in 2016 and would turn Malaysia into the oil and gas industry hub of Asia. Rapid development, political stability and friendly investment policies under the BN government has propelled Johor to a whole new level.
BN’s record of achievements in developing Johor and its people cannot be denied by anyone, including the opposition.
Johor BN Information chief Datuk Samsolbari Jamali said based on records of service to the people no one within the state or elsewhere can question what has been achieved by the party.
“We (BN) are consistent, not seasonal. We’re always with the people, unlike the opposition which is sending down its ‘parachute’ candidates,” he said.
According to him, although faced with stiff competition from the opposition for the upcoming general election, BN has been prepared since 2008 and is highly confident of defending Johor as its bastion.
“We will defend all the parliament and state assembly seats we won in 2008 and wrest back all those we lost then,” he said. In 2008 BN lost the Bakri parliamentary and Sungai Abong, Maharani, Mengkibol, Senai, Skudai and Bentayan state assembly seats.
Now at the 13th General Election, the opposition in Johor led by Kit Siang is hoping to seize 15 parliamentary and 13 state assembly seats from BN, with quite a number of them in Chinese majority areas. As for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the opposition’s fiery spirit is of no significance as he feels it would in no way dilute the ruling party’s chances in the birth state of Umno.
“I’m confident that Johor will remain BN’s ‘fixed deposit’,” said the former Prime Minister and former Umno president before 5,000 BN supporters in Johor Baharu last week.
Johor Baharu member of parliament Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad is of the opinion that the opposition cannot depend on a repeat of the ‘political tsunami’ which occurred in 2008. The political veteran emphasised that for the past five years Johor BN has worked very hard to regain the people’s trust and the 2008 scenario had dissipated completely. Whereas Johor MCA Election deputy director Datuk Tee Siew Kiong said its 450 branches will ensure a win for whoever contests under BN.
“We have been working hard in the areas lost during the previous election. Not like the opposition which ‘disappeared’ afterwards and is now reappearing for this election,” he said.
Meanwhile, Johor MIC secretary M. Asojan said that the Indian community’s support for BN was now at its highest level ever at 80 percent. Johor MIC is expected to contest in the Segamat parliamentary and Permas Jaya, Kahang, Bukit Gambir and Tenggaroh state assembly seats.