JOHOR BARU, Feb 4 — Barisan Nasional (BN), especially Umno, must not feel comfortable but, instead, adapt to the new political landscape following the emergence of many political parties of late.

Umno information chief Shahril Suffian Hamdan said the presence of new political parties, such as the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda), cannot be underestimated and Umno should, instead find suitable new strategies to ensure it remained relevant among the younger generation.

“Indeed, we acknowledge and take it seriously, (we) cannot look down on other parties because they, including Muda, have their own attraction … Umno must adapt to this new landscape.

“Some view these new parties as not having grassroots and central members but, in the new political scenario, parties without many members or excellent network also have groups of voters that we cannot take lightly,” he told reporters during a casual get-together with journalists, who will be covering the Johor state election, here today.

Shahril Suffian, who is also the economic director at the Prime Minister’s Office, said this when asked about Umno’s strategy in facing the challenges in the polls, especially that posed by the new parties, including Muda.

On January 29, Muda president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman confirmed that the party would contest in the Johor election.

The number of voters in Johor recorded an increase by about 28 per cent, with the addition of 749,731 voters aged 18 and above following the automatic registration of voters under the Undi18 move posing a new challenge to contesting parties.

Commenting on the preparation being done by the central Umno Information for the Johor polls, Shahril Suffian said he would look at the campaigning guidelines to be set by the Election Commission (EC).

“Like in Melaka, we have learnt something and for this state election, the situation is a bit different. Of course, we will focus on information regarding current issues and how to win back voters who are sitting on the fence.

“We will wait for the Health Ministry’s standard operating procedures (SOP)… in Melaka it was quite strict. If possible, we want a bit of relaxation (in the SOP to campaign) in Johor this time,” he said.

The EC is expected to announce the dates for the Johor election after a special meeting on February 9. — Bernama