Johor Umno tells voters to judge it fairly

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PETALING JAYA: Umno has reacted to predictions of its loss of power in Johor by appealing to voters to judge it fairly and point out its mistakes.

“If we have done good, acknowledge it, and if we’ve done wrong, tell us,” Johor Umno information chief Samsol Bari Jamali said in an interview with FMT.

“If there is more bad than good, say so, and we’ll do better. But at the same time, don’t forget the good that the state government has done.”

He complained that people would often ask the government to be fair to them without questioning whether they were being fair to those in power.

Pundits say it is a reasonable probability that the Johor government will fall to Pakatan Harapan (PH) with Umno splinter PPBM leading the opposition’s charge in the state. They say this is mainly due to the influence of PPBM president Muhyiddin Yassin, who was menteri besar of the state from 1986 to 1995.

However, Samsol said Muhyiddin was not as big a threat to Umno as he was made out to be.

“Just go to the ground and ask the people there about Muhyiddin,” he said. “Ask them what Muhyiddin’s future in the state is, especially in his Pagoh constituency.

“Yes, the opposition will always be a threat that we have to deal with, and we are not taking it lightly. But we are not worried about losing the state. We’ll continue doing what we have been doing all along, which is to defend our seats by being service orientated.”

He said the opposition’s show of confidence was a “psychological tactic” meant to hide its flaws.

“How can PH have gained strength in Johor when the component parties are in disarray, and when they have MPs like Lim Kit Siang, who are never around their constituencies?

“All parties claim to be strong, but the opposition can’t even agree on seat distribution. On our side, we haven’t done anything that will justify our removal.”

Asked to speculate whether the housing and land scandal involving former state executive councillor Abd Latif Bandi would have an effect on the voting pattern, Samsol said the issue was not serious enough to turn voters away from Umno.

“The Bumiputera quota here is much higher than in other states,” he said. “We also have the highest acreage of Malay reserve land in the country, and the number of affordable homes is increasing.

“Come to Johor. What is so bad about it? We haven’t swept scandals under the rug. We take action and fix them.”

Abd Latif, formerly the exco for housing and local government, was last year charged with corruption involving RM30.3 million. He was charged along with property consultant Amir Shariffuddin Abdul Raub,

They are accused of changing the status of Bumiputera residential land to non-Bumiputera. The offence is said to have been committed between 2013 and last year.