Umno’s reluctance on unity government in Johor not yet cause for alarm, analysts say

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 — Johor Umno’s reluctance to form a unity government to administer the state despite recent electoral success was not reason enough to doubt the party’s commitment to its political allies, said political analysts.

They also said Johor should not be compared directly to other states jointly governed by Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional as its administration was formed prior to the two coalitions teaming up after last year’s general election.

“It is understandable why Johor Umno is very reluctant in forming a unity government similar to Melaka or Pahang because Johor Umno won handsomely — two-thirds majority easily — they conquered the state assembly, so yes, that is understandable,” Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research (NASR) senior fellow Azmi Hassan said.

“But I’m hoping that at least one PH rep will be roped in in the exco, since PH is an ally in terms of supporting the Johor state government.

“But I guess it is different from Melaka, as it has new chief minister, Datuk Seri Ab Rauf Yusoh, and that’s why in this case Rauf in this case created an executive councillor post similar to the unity government,” Azmi told Malay Mail when contacted.

He also said a reconstitution of the Johor government was not likely unless there is major upheaval such as the replacement of the menteri besar, which meant it was unlikely that a unity government would be formed there soon.

On Sunday, Johor Umno Youth chief Noor Azleen Ambros said the formation of a unity government in Johor should not be a priority over addressing the state’s high cost of living and food supply issues, said.

He reportedly said there was no need to raise the issue now as the unity government was already in existence at the federal level.

Noor Azleen, who is an aide to the higher education minister, was commenting on calls by several Johor political leaders for a unity government to be formed in the state to mirror the cooperation in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s federal administration.

Weighing in, the University of Malaya Centre for Democracy and Elections sociopolitical analyst Associate Professor Awang Azman Awang Pawi said the formation of Johor state legislative assembly took place before the formation of the unity government was formed at the federal level, and the state was also not involved with the six state elections in August.

“So, it’s not so much of their disinterest but they haven’t looked at it from a long-term viewpoint. In terms of long-term viewpoint, while Johor doesn’t have a unity state government, Sarawak is in the same position.

“[Sarawak] too doesn’t have a unity government. To resolve the situation in Johor, it has to involve the top party leadership leaders, the unity government secretariat for implementation of the unity government in Johor,” Awang Azman said.

He added that the responsibility should not be placed on the state government leaders because they should follow the orders of decisions made by top leadership or the unity government secretariat.

“That needs to be handled in that manner and not sensationalised on social media,” he said.

He said that for as long as the unity government has not been formed, PH should be seen as an active check and balance.

“It’s important. But I don’t think there are any obstacles in forming a unity government in Johor.

“This can be done, and in a long run it will allow them to get used to working together, particularly facing the 16th general election (GE16) in four years’ time,” Awang Azman said.

Echoing Azmi and Awang Azman, assistant professor of political science at the International Islamic University Malaysia Syaza Shukri said Johor is different as it had its state elections months before the general election and Umno was able to win a clear majority on its own in that state election.

When asked if it was something of to be concerned about, she said the situation should be fine for the next three to four years.

“They can maintain stability in Johor without challenging the unity government at the federal level.

“However, when it’s time for their next state election then it might be difficult because they need to make a decision to go alone or work with PH.

“This could then be an indication of where Umno would go in GE16,” she said.