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JOHOR BARU, March 30 — The Johor Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) leadership will meet to discuss preparations and seat distributions for a possible general election, according to a source.
The meeting, which is supposed to be a Johor state-level leadership meeting but to be chaired by Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, may see the party gearing up to contest traditional Umno seats in the state.
The source said the agenda also follows last Sunday’s Umno general assembly in Kuala Lumpur where the party’s Johor chief Datuk Hasni Mohammad claimed that the ruling Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) support here was much weaker compared to Umno.
At the same time, Hasni, who is also the Johor mentri besar, claimed Muhyiddin would lose if he were to defend the Pagoh parliamentary seat in the next general election.
The source revealed that the meeting, to be held at 3pm tomorrow at the Zenith Hotel Putrajaya in Putrajaya, will see all of Johor Bersatu’s 26 division chiefs attending.
“The division chiefs have not received the meeting’s agenda yet, but most are expecting the discussions to touch on Bersatu’s strength in the rural areas of the state and also the direction of cooperation with Johor Umno.
“Without doubt, Umno still has a strong election machinery in the rural areas and Bersatu will need to strategise on capturing a majority of the areas if the Johor PN happens to go to the polls without Umno,” said the source to Malay Mail today on condition of anonymity.
The source was commenting on the meeting, which was initially supposed to be a monthly affair in Johor, following the outcome of Umno general assembly over the weekend that saw the party endorsing the decision not to work with Bersatu during the coming 15th General Election (GE15).
Besides meeting with the 26 Bersatu division chiefs, the source said Muhyiddin will also be chairing the Johor PN meeting at the same venue.
“The Johor PN meeting will also include the state PAS leaders as they are officially part of and have been supportive of the coalition,” said the source.
The source added that after the two meetings, the Johor Bersatu division chiefs are expecting an indicator or decision on whether cooperation with Johor Umno will continue in the future.
“Johor Bersatu needs to go forward in this matter and the recent sentiments by Umno leaders have upset the party’s Johor grassroots who see the speeches in last weekend’s Umno general assembly as an attack against Muhyiddin and the party,” said the source.
Earlier at an event in Iskandar Puteri, Kulai Bersatu division chief Tosrin Jarvanthi confirmed that the two meetings would be held in Putrajaya tomorrow.
However, the senior politician and Johor state government exco, declined to reveal further details on the meeting’s agenda.
On Saturday, Muhyiddin was reported to have said Bersatu was prepared to face Umno if the party still wished to contest in all seats in the 15th General Election.
Muhyididin, who is also the prime minister, was also reported to have said that he has no objection if Umno decides to no longer cooperate with Bersatu in the coming polls.
On Sunday, Hasni also called on Umno’s top leadership to give its Johor chapter the autonomy to decide on its strategy for the next elections in the state. He also urged for seat quotas for Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties to be done away with as Muhyiddin himself is the state Bersatu chief and he will be going all out to ensure his party can take Johor.
On the same day, the Umno assembly unanimously adopted a resolution to sever ties with PN but gave no definite timeline for when party leaders serving in Muhyiddin’s administration must withdraw.
Umno nominally supports the ruling PN coalition but is not a component, and has become increasingly hostile to supposed ally Bersatu.
At present, Johor has 56 seats in the state assembly with the latest breakdown with Umno and DAP having 14 each, Bersatu (12), Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) (nine), PKR (four), MIC (two) and PAS (1).
The Johor PN government has a slim majority of only 29 seats compared to 27 seats in the Opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) bloc.