Johor Umno sources point towards former MB Hasni contesting in one of three potential federal seats

·4-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

JOHOR BARU, July 28 — Former Johor mentri besar Datuk Seri Hasni Mohammad is expected to contest either the Pontian or Tanjung Piai parliamentary seat for the coming 15th general election (GE15) to focus his efforts at the federal level, according to several Umno sources.

It is understood that the two adjacent federal constituencies, located in Johor’s western zone, are the most suitable to him partly due to Hasni being a local there as well as the area being his grassroots base.

In addition, the neighbouring Simpang Renggam state seat has also been touted as another option for the former mentri besar.

A Johor Umno source, closely linked to the party’s state leadership, said the proposal for Hasni to either contest in Pontian or Tanjung Piai was made following several considerations.

He said both adjacent constituencies are ideal for Hasni after it had been anticipated that the career politician will contest a parliamentary seat following his sudden withdrawal from being the mentri besar candidate after the state polls last March.

“Datuk Seri Hasni’s move is a clear signal that he is prepared to move on from state matters as an assemblyman and to serve at the federal level.

“The first thing to do is for the party leadership to secure a place in either Pontian or Tanjung Piai for him as a Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate,” said the source to Malay Mail recently on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to discuss the matter.

The source was responding to rumours on Hasni’s move to contest in a parliamentary seat for GE15 following making known his intentions in April.

This was shortly after not being appointed as the Johor mentri besar after the state polls in March. Despite being touted as BN’s “poster boy“, the sudden move after the coalition had secured 40 out of 56 state seats had somehow affected Hasni’s political future.

The same source explained that it was time for Hasni, who still maintains his role as the Johor Umno chief and also the state’s BN coalition leader, to move ahead.

He said Hasni as a state leader has managed to bring about stability and solidarity among the various divisions in Johor Umno.

“Basically, Johor Umno is now seen to be progressive and this has also enabled the party to soon contest in the 17 parliamentary constituencies, with the Simpang Renggam seat being the latest addition for the Malay party,” said the source.

The source also said the 63-year-old Benut assemblyman is seen as a leader that understood the uneasy political climate after the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition was ousted from federal power including in several states back in 2020.

“It was not an easy task for Hasni, but somehow he managed to balance the political demands and also administrative challenges during his time as the Johor mentri besar.

“He had also steered Johor away from any major economic crisis in close to two years of the Covid-19 restrictions.

“At the same time, he managed to balance the political situation in the state by avoiding divisive policies and developed people-centric policies for the long-term,” said the source, adding that Hasni was generally respected from both sides of the political divide during his stint as Johor mentri besar.

Another Umno source said it was a timely move for Hasni to contest in Pontian which is considered his “political power base” or Tanjung Piai, where he was born and spent his formative years.

He believes that Hasni, who has a good reputation as a moderate leader, will make a good transition from state to federal level.

“Many may have forgotten that Hasni was once the Pontian MP from 2004 to 2008. Additionally, I don’t think the Pontian and Tanjung Piai grassroots have a problem as he is seen as a local in both areas,” he said to Malay Mail.

However, the source pointed out that Hasni needs to look into both the division’s current status and needs in terms of future candidates where inter-party negotiations was necessary.

“There is a need to avoid any conflict with Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan, who is also the Pontian MP.

“This same situation also applies to Tanjung Piai, where it is a MCA seat and is currently under Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng,” said the source.

The source said that it was possible that the Simpang Renggam parliament seat, which will also be contested by Johor Umno, will play an important role for Hasni.

He added that the seat will help where it may be exchanged for Hasni’s participation in either Pontian or Tanjung Piai.

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