JOHOR BARU, April 9 — Pakatan Harapan (PH) parties have begun lobbying for the Johor mentri besar’s post soon after rumours started to swirl that Datuk Osman Sapian will be asked to step down.
Even though Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) holds the most seats in the state legislative assembly, this has not stopped PKR, Parti Amanah Negara and DAP from pushing for the post.
Sources familiar with the matter said it was no secret that several names have been circulating as potential contenders to replace Osman, who is Johor PPBM chief, and among them are PPBM’s senior state excos Mazlan Bujang and Sahruddin Jamal.
Both are considered strong politicians. Mazlan is the Puteri Wangsa assemblyman and enjoys a strong following in the party’s southern part of the state; while Sahruddin, the Bukit Kepong assemblyman, has followers in the northern part of Johor.
A PH source revealed that Mazlan stands a good chance as he is said to be aligned to the party’s chairman and Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“At the same time, Mazlan is also the exco in charge of the state’s public works, infrastructure and transportation portfolio, making him an ideal candidate as he has a background in development matters.
“Sahruddin, who is the state’s health, environment and agriculture exco, on the other hand, is said to be close to the party’s president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who enjoys solid support from the northern districts of Pagoh and Muar,” a source told Malay Mail on condition of anonymity.
The source said another name that has been bandied about is PKR’s Semerah assemblyman and the current state youth, sports and culture exco, Mohd Khuzzan Abu Bakar.
“Khuzzan seems to be Johor PKR’s only choice as a potential contender as he is among one of the more active excos and is said to be on good terms with the Johor palace.
“However, of late, there is a need for him to solidify his party’s political position in the state as he currently does not hold a post,” said the source.
The same source revealed that Johor DAP has also prepared one name from their party — Paloh assemblyman Sheikh Umar Bagharib Ali, who also helms the state’s information, entrepreneurship development, cooperatives and creative economy portfolio.
“Sheikh Umar has been described as a ‘dark horse’ candidate,” said the source.
For Amanah, a Johor party chapter source said two names have been prepared.
“The two are senior exco Aminolhuda Hassan, who is also the state Amanah chief, and Senggerang assemblyman Khairuddin A Rahim who is also the state party secretary,” said the source.
The source said Johor Amanah is confident that one of its two members has the potential to fill the post of Johor mentri besar for at least the remaining term before the next general election is called by 2023.
“Khairuddin’s name came as a surprise to many as the 59-year-old Senggerang assemblyman and environmental activist is known to work behind closed doors,” said the source.
Another source said there was a possibility that former Umno Kota Tinggi strongman and current PPBM member Rosleli Jahari might also be considered for the post.
He said Rosleli, who is also the Johor Lama assemblyman, is understood to have the backing from Osman’s camp once he vacates his post.
“However, Rosleli who was once the Kota Tinggi Umno secretary, is said to be aligned to its chief Datuk Daing A Malek Daing A Rahman, who is a known Johor-based businessman with links to the palace.
“The issue is that Rosleli’s name will not go down well with the other Johor PH component parties as they view him and two others, Sedili assemblyman Rasman Ithnain and Endau assemblyman Alawiyah Talib as former Umno members who lacked the understanding of the PH reform agenda,” said the source.
On May 12 last year, just days after the PH coalition seized power from BN and formed the Johor government, the three assemblymen had announced that they were leaving Umno to join PPBM for the sake of their constituents.
The move did not go down well with the other component parties from the state PH as the trio were previously known to be staunch Umno members, who were accused of lacking understanding of the PH reform agenda.
It is learnt that all PH component parties will be on standby for any eventualities this week.
Another source close to the ruling state PH leadership confirmed that each of the state’s coalition parties has a potential candidate list that they are eager to submit to Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad confirmed that Osman had handed in his resignation letter to the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday.
He said for the time being the state will be without an MB, until Osman’s successor can be named.
“We have shortlisted three or four names to take over,” Dr Mahathir said during a press conference at the Dewan Rakyat.
Dr Mahathir said whoever takes over from Osman must be from PPBM as per the Pakatan Harapan Agreement.