PUTRAJAYA, Aug 21 — Barisan Nasional (BN) faces a real risk of losing its two-thirds majority in the state assembly of Johor, Umno’s birthplace, in the next general election amid the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) controversy, the party’s federal lawmaker Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed has warned.
The Pulai MP who was promoted to be deputy home minister last month said he did not foresee a return of the Chinese vote to the ruling coalition and noted that the Malay electorate’s support for Umno was up in the air now, possibly worsened by a split in the Malay nationalist party after Johor-born Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was dropped as deputy prime minister.
“That will make Johor no longer a fixed deposit state,” Nur Jazlan told Malay Mail Online in an interview at his new office in the Home Ministry here earlier this week.
“At the end of the day, I don't think the Chinese are coming back because of the 1MDB thing. The Malays are now an unknown factor — how they will react.
“The Malays strongly support Umno in Johor, but if they become emotional, angry,” he trailed off, but then pointed out that such an incident had happened before in 1990, where vexed members jumped parties and voted against the government.
Nur Jazlan was referring to the now-defunct Semangat 46 party formed by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah after the Kelantan prince narrowly lost to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in a challenge for the Umno presidency. A lawsuit was filed over the contentious party election and Umno was deregistered in 1988, shortly after which Dr Mahathir formed Umno Baru.
Nur Jazlan said his father, the late Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat who was former Umno secretary-general and information minister, was instrumental in reviving Umno after it was deregistered.
“Johor was the launching pad for Umno Baru,” he said.
The opposition won 18 out of 56 state seats in Johor in the 13th general election, leaving BN with 38 seats, exactly two-thirds of the state legislative assembly. The collaboration between DAP, PAS and PKR as Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in Election 2013 then had allowed the opposition to triple its seat tally from just six seats won in the 2008 general election.
PR, however, broke up recently over disagreements on PAS’ renewed push to implement hudud in Kelantan.
“This maybe has lulled Umno into a sense of false security because we tend to deny any problems in the party, even though everybody else can see it, like the crisis with 1MDB, the prime minister,” said Nur Jazlan.
“It's up to the Umno members to do something. If they don't, then we may get shocked in GE,” the 49-year-old added.
BN recorded its worst-ever electoral performance in Election 2013, losing the popular vote to the opposition.
Prime Minister and Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak has come under pressure over a donation of RM2.6 billion to his personal bank account that anti-corruption authorities said was contributed by Middle East donors, not from state-owned firm 1MDB.
Najib dropped Muhyiddin, who is Umno deputy president, and Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal from Sabah, in a recent Cabinet reshuffle, both of whom had been criticising the government’s handling of the debt-laden 1MDB.
The move has sparked discontent in Umno in Johor and Sabah, as well as in other states like Kedah and Terengganu.