Umno source claims Bersatu plotting against Johor MB, putting state government in jeopardy

The logo of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) is seen in this file picture taken December 29, 2018. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
The logo of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) is seen in this file picture taken December 29, 2018. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

JOHOR BARU, May 1 — Members of Johor’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) are allegedly planning to oust Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad in a campaign that could bring down the state government, an Umno source claimed.

The well-placed source alleged that the campaign accelerated over state Bersatu lawmakers’ unhappiness with the political appointments of some Umno leaders.

“The campaign had started earlier to formalise the Perikatan Nasional (PN) alliance where Bersatu will have more say as an equal partner to Umno in the alliance.

“However, Umno was not keen on formalising the alliance as they are also part of Barisan Nasional (BN) and more recently Muafakat Nasional,” said the source on condition of anonymity to Malay Mail today.

Over time, the campaign evolved into a purported plan to table a motion of no-confidence against the Umno MB when the state assembly reconvenes on May 14, the person added.

“The plan is to pressure Umno into giving in to Bersatu’s demands. However, the May 14 plan may have to be postponed to after Hari Raya Puasa as on the date it will strictly be ceremonial. 

“Bersatu had always wanted Johor to be their ‘showcase’ state and the two previous MBs were also from the party,” added the source.

The Johor assembly has 56 seats. Both Umno and DAP have 14 each. The remaining seats are held by Bersatu (11), Amanah (9), PKR (4), MIC (2), PAS (1) and one independent.

With the current situation, Johor Umno deputy chief Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said there was a chance that the PN state government could collapse due to the cold war between his party and Bersatu.

He said this and more were possible as the two nominal allies have no formal agreement heading into the next general election.

“Yes, I have heard that there is an ongoing campaign by Bersatu to formalise the PN alliance in Johor, but their plan is currently facing resistance from Umno’s grassroots,” said Nur Jazlan told Malay Mail when contacted.

Nur Jazlan then said Johor Bersatu should stop demanding for positions and realise its position in the PN coalition.

He said the state Bersatu chapter’s pressure on Umno for positions did not make any sense as the party did not command a majority in the state assembly.

“In frustration, they may force a dissolution of the state assembly on May 14, where Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar has the prerogative in doing so,” he said.

The Umno leader warned this could spread to all PN administrations, both at state and federal levels.

Nur Jazlan, who is also the Pulai Umno division chief and former Barisan Nasional (BN) parliamentarian, claimed that supporters in the state initially welcome Bersatu when it allied with his party.

He also pointed out that Bersatu’s grassroots movement in Johor was inferior to his party that considered the state to be its birthplace.

“Personally, Umno is strong in Johor and we can stand on our own as we believe that the party stands a good chance of winning in the next general election,” said Nur Jazlan.

On Monday, Johor Bersatu secretary Mohd Solihan Badri wrote an open letter telling Umno not to neglect his party for political appointments in the state, such as at state-linked companies.

The Tenang assemblyman and state executive committee chairman claimed 11 members of the party and an independent representative in the state assembly have a crucial role to play in keeping the PN coalition intact until the next general election.

Nur Jazlan reminded Bersatu that they were the ones who abandoned PH and formed PN with Umno.

“So if we don’t give in to their demands, Bersatu will return to PH?” he asked.

Separately, Johor Bersatu chief Mazlan Bujang said that such “tensions” among his party and Umno in the state were part-and-parcel of politics.

“It’s normal for any political parties to have such bickering. This is not a serious matter and it can be settled with discussions,” he said, downplaying the plan that Bersatu may trigger a collapse of the state government.

Mazlan, who is the Puteri Wangsa assemblyman and a state executive committee chairman, said the situation was well under control.

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