JOHOR BARU, May 5 — Johor Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) is certain that it will not work with Umno in the state at the next general election, in light of continued tensions between the two Malay parties.
Its secretary Datuk Dr Sahruddin Jamal said that the party will instead contest seats with the cooperation of Islamist party PAS and Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (Gerakan), its two official partners in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition.
He pointed out that prior to this, Bersatu had extended an olive branch to Umno on numerous occasions for them to join forces on both the national and state levels.
“We (Bersatu) have always been open to discussions, but our efforts with Umno have gone nowhere after being snubbed by them.
“In fact, Umno has also constantly condemned and hit out at Bersatu,” said Dr Sahruddin after Johor Bersatu’s breaking of fast event with the media at Holiday Villa Hotel here last night.
Also present was Johor Bersatu deputy chief Senator Md Nasir Hashim and other officials from the party’s state chapter.
Dr Sahruddin, who is also the state’s PN secretary, was commenting on Bersatu’s relationship with Umno in Johor and the party’s plans for the 15th general election (GE15).
With the current line-up, the former Johor mentri besar said state Bersatu is upbeat about teaming up with PAS and Gerakan under PN for the time being.
“For Johor, the three parties have mutually agreed and are prepared to contest under PN without Umno,” he said, adding that this was the present scenario as long as Umno continues to be hostile towards Bersatu.
On the division of seats among the three PN parties, Dr Sahruddin said the breakdown and figures for GE15 were not confirmed yet.
He said the decision on which party would contest which available seats in Johor would only be made after deliberations by the respective party leaders.
“However, the final decision will be made by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also the Bersatu president as well as the party’s Johor chairman,” said Dr Sahruddin who is also the Bukit Kepong assemblyman.
Dr Sahruddin’s statement appears to indicate a further breakdown in the relationship between Bersatu and Umno, which the latter had said in late March would be terminated ahead of GE15.
Prior to this, Bersatu had tried to extend its cooperation with Umno, while PAS tried to convince the Malay nationalists to return to PN in the interests of Muslim unity.
At present, Umno nominally supports the ruling PN coalition but is not a component, and the party has vowed to run against Bersatu once the general election is called.
Johor has 56 seats in the state assembly: Umno and DAP have 14 each, followed by Bersatu (12), Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) (nine), PKR (four), MIC (two) and PAS (one).
The Johor PN government, led by Umno’s Datuk Hasni Mohammad, has a slim majority of only 29 seats compared to 27 seats in the Opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) bloc.