KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 24 — Johor could not wait for the next general election and had to call state polls now as its Covid-battered economy is in desperate need of salvaging, said caretaker Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad.

According to Malay daily Utusan Malaysia today, Hasni, who is also Johor Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman, said that the latest statistics showed that in terms of local investment inflows, Johor had fallen to sixth place from its second or third ranking previously.

According to him, the inflow of foreign investment also dropped, with Johor now at number eight compared to other states, despite its prime location as an immediate neighbour to Singapore, which receives many investments from Hong Kong.

“If Johor does not do something, we will slide even lower. The fact is that no one can deny the Johor government is unstable with its one-seat majority. This is an undeniable fact.

“It means that if the tenure of the current government is long, then its policies can last a long time too. This is a prerequisite for efforts to attract or retain existing investors in our country,” he was quoted as saying.

Hasni said he wanted to implement economic development plans after seeing the impact of Covid-19 and the closure of borders on sectors that were major contributors to Johor’s economy such as real estate and tourism.

In the same report, he also said that state authorities had received many requests for meetings and discussions from investors interested in Johor.

“But they are only testing the waters, even if they don’t say it directly, I can read their body language.

“Their concern is whether you have another year (as mentri besar), (so) why should we trust your promises and guarantees,” he said.

On Saturday, Hasni said that the Johor government had to call for an early state election in order to win a strong mandate to continue administering the state.

He claimed the fact his administration had been reduced to a one-seat majority put it at the mercy of the Opposition, especially when it came to any important decisions.

Hasni leads the state government with a razor-thin majority of 28 seats. BN holds 16 seats while Bersatu has 11 seats and PAS one.

The Opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition controls 27 seats in the Johor state assembly comprising DAP with 14, Parti Amanah Negara (six) and PKR (seven).