ISKANDAR PUTERI, Feb 23 — Former Johor mentri besar Datuk Dr Sahruddin Jamal said he is confident that he will defend his Bukit Kepong state seat in the run-up to the state election next month.

The 47-year-old incumbent is confident Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia will likely maintain him to defend his northern Johor seat under the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition for the March 12 state polls.

“God willing, I will be maintained in my state assembly seat.

“However, I will leave it to the party’s leadership to officially announce my candidacy for the Bukit Kepong state seat,” said Dr Sahruddin during the Johor PN media dinner at the Sunway Hotel Big Box in Sunway City here last night.

Also present was Johor Bersatu deputy chief Senator Md Nasir Hashim and other senior party members.

He was earlier asked if the PN coalition had chosen a new candidate or will be maintaining him for the Bukit Kepong state constituency.

Dr Sahruddin, who is the Johor PN and also Bersatu secretary, pointed out that he has done a lot to improve the area in terms of development and programmes since securing the seat in the 2018 general election.

He explained most of the mosques as well as all types of schools in the area have been well taken care of under his watch as the elected representative.

Dr Sahruddin said throughout his term, he has placed emphasis on quality education for the Bukit Kepong community.

“To me, education is important. That is why I support and care for most of the schools in my area.

“This is irrespective if they are primary, secondary, religious, national and even vernacular-type schools,” said the trained medical practitioner.

Dr Sahruddin said it was his profession as a doctor that spurred him to see that all of Bukit Kepong’s community, as well as those within the Pagoh parliamentary constituency, are granted access to quality education.

He said this is important as Pagoh, where Bukit Kepong comes under, is known as an education hub with various institutions and universities within the area.

When asked if he will be Johor PN’s potential mentri besar candidate, Dr Sahruddin said that such a decision was up to the party’s leadership.

On earlier rumours that point towards him being fielded to contest a parliament seat for the coming general election, Dr Sahruddin said it was too early to discuss his candidacy for a federal seat.

“What is certain is that I will be contesting in the state polls and my current focus is to defend my seat,” he said, adding that he has done early preparations, including the possibility of contesting in a multi-cornered fight.

In the previous 14th general election (GE14), Dr Sahruddin won the Bukit Kepong seat in a three-cornered contest with a majority of 11,665 out of a total of 23,818 votes under a Pakatan Harapan (PH) ticket. He beat his rivals from Barisan Nasional (BN) and PAS.

Bersatu was previously under PH that became the ruling government before the coalition collapsed due to the political coup dubbed the “Sheraton Move” in February 2020.

Bersatu and several parties subsequently led to the formation of a new government under its president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in March of that year. 

At present, Umno and Bersatu, together with their BN and PN coalitions, are nominally allied in Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s federal administration, but have been openly hostile towards each other in virtually all other settings.

For the upcoming Johor polls, both BN and PN are expected to lock horns in all 56 state seats, with almost all seats having multi-cornered contests.

The Election Commission has set March 12 as polling day, with nomination day on February 26, while early voting is on March 8.