JOHOR BARU, May 12 — Three Johor Umno assemblymen and 40 other members switched allegiances to Pakatan Harapan (PH) today, following the Barisan Nasional’s crumble in the 14th general election.

The assemblymen are Rasman Ithnain (Sedili), Rosleli Jahari (Johor Lama) and Alawiyah Talib (Endau).

All three have stated their decision to quit Umno and join Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) for the sake of the people they represent, and also in the spirit of Malay unity.

Rasman, who represented the group, said the decision was made in the interest of the constituents that they represented.

“What matters to us is the people who we as representatives have to assist.

“Our voters will understand as with BN’s current situation being the Opposition, we would not be able to provide the best service to our constituents,” he said in a media conference at the M Suites Hotel here.

The trio were later joined by 40 other Kota Tinggi division Umno members who will also apply to join PPBM, which is the lynchpin party for the ruling PH in Johor.

Johor PPBM secretary Datuk Osman Sapian, who was at the event to receive the group, said PH said such matters as crossing over is normal in politics.

“Even the prophet can forgive the people. We can’t be vengeful as our goal now is to develop the country,” he said.

Checks by Malay Mail revealed that Rasman was the Kota Tinggi Umno deputy division chief, while Rosleli was the division’s secretary.

Both are known to be closely aligned to the Kota Tinggi Umno division chief and businessman Datuk Daing A Malek Daing A Rahman.

Alawiyah was Mersing Umno Wanita chief. She is linked closely to the party’s former strongman and ex-state executive councillor Datuk Abd Latif Bandi, who has been charged with 21 counts of money laundering amounting to RM35.78 million in connection with the Johor land scandal that broke out last year.

With the defection of three state assemblymen, the Johor state assembly will see the PH-led state government having 39 seats compared to BN’s 16 seats and PAS having one seat.

On Wednesday, the state’s BN led by Johor Umno suffered the biggest upset in its history after PH won a total of 36 seats out of the 56 seats in the May 9 polls.

Johor, the spiritual birthplace of Umno, had always been known as a BN stronghold. However, since 2008, support for the component parties under the then-ruling coalition had been eroding due to several national issues.