JOHOR BARU, March 30 — The Johor chapter of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) will wait for a decision from its top leadership regarding its role in the state government, following heightened tensions between the party and its ally Umno.
Johor Bersatu secretary Datuk Dr Sahruddin Jamal said whatever action that the state party’s chapter will take will be through discussions before any deliberation.
“We will wait for the directive from Bersatu’s leadership and this will be dependent on the meeting that will be held with party president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (in Putrajaya) tomorrow.
“God willing, the outcome will be known tomorrow after Tan Sri (Muhyiddin) meets with Johor Bersatu and state Perikatan Nasional (PN) leaders,” said Dr Sahruddin in a press conference held at the Pagoh Bersatu division office near Muar today.
Dr Sahruddin was responding to Hasni, who is also the current Johor mentri besar, who claimed Muhyiddin would lose if he were to defend the Pagoh parliamentary seat in the next general election.
Hasni’s comment last weekend triggered friction between Umno and Bersatu in Johor.
Despite the political tensions that threaten to collapse the state government, Dr Sahruddin said Bersatu was still supporting the Umno-led government in Johor due to its respect for Muhyiddin, who is also the party’s state chapter chief.
“We (Johor Bersatu) are still with the state government till this very day because of our respect for our party president,” said the former Johor mentri besar.
Dr Sahruddin also slammed Hasni for remarking that Muhyiddin was weak in his own Pagoh parliamentary constituency.
He pointed out that if Bersatu was weak in Pagoh, then where was Umno’s strength in the last general election as the latter lost all three seats, including the Bukit Pasir and Bukit Kepong state seats.
“Bersatu is prepared to face any party in a straight or multi-cornered contest for the 15th general election (GE15),” said Dr Sahruddin.
Dr Sahruddin reminded Umno that the present Johor government was formed out of consensus with parties that supported the PN coalition.
“If Bersatu did not agree, Hasni will not hold the Johor Mentri Besar position. So, please appreciate our sacrifice,” he said.
Dr Sahruddin also questioned Umno’s purported strength over Bersatu, citing that the latter party was also weak in its administration.
“If Umno is so strong, then why is it that they have yet to settle the issue regarding the appointment of local councilors, village heads and community leaders?
“It has already been more than a year,” he said.
Meanwhile, Johor Bersatu deputy chief Md Nasir Hashim reminded Hasni that it would take only two assemblymen under PN to decide whether Umno would continue to lead the state government.
He said Hasni’s administration can fall at any time due to his remarks.
Earlier, Malay Mail reported that the Johor Bersatu leadership will meet to discuss preparations and seat distributions for a possible general election.
The meeting, which is supposed to be a Johor state-level leadership meeting but to be chaired by Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, may see the party gearing up to contest traditional Umno seats in the state.
Last Saturday, Muhyiddin was reported to have said Bersatu was prepared to face Umno if the party still wished to contest in all seats in the next general election.
Muhyididin, who is also the prime minister reportedly said that he has no objection if Umno decides to no longer cooperate with Bersatu in the coming polls.
On Sunday, Hasni also called on Umno’s top leadership to give its Johor chapter the autonomy to decide on its strategy for the next elections in the state. He also urged for seat quotas for Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties to be done away with as Muhyiddin himself is the state Bersatu chief and he will be going all out to ensure his party can take Johor.
On the same day, the Umno assembly unanimously adopted a resolution to sever ties with PN but gave no definite timeline for when party leaders serving in Muhyiddin’s administration must withdraw.
Umno nominally supports the ruling PN coalition but is not a component, and has become increasingly hostile to supposed ally Bersatu.
Johor has 56 seats in the state assembly with the latest breakdown with Umno and DAP having 14 each, Bersatu (12), Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) (nine), PKR (four), MIC (two) and PAS (1).
The Johor PN government has a slim majority of only 29 seats compared to 27 seats in the Opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) bloc.
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