ISKANDAR PUTERI, Feb 23 — Despite expecting multiple-cornered contests in the coming state election, Johor Perikatan Nasional (PN) said it is optimistic it can secure a more than two-thirds majority to form the next state government.

Johor PN secretary Datuk Dr Sahruddin Jamal said the coalition’s leadership is aware of the increase in candidates vying for seats this time round and is confident that it can win the required seats and form the next state government.

He explained that this was based on the coalition’s previous experience of having its leaders in administering both state and also federal governments.

“PN has been in the government before. We also have a former prime minister and also mentri besar in our ranks.

“With that, we are confident that we can govern Johor and also Malaysia better,” said Dr Sahruddin during the Johor PN media dinner at the Sunway Hotel Big Box in Sunway City here last night.

He was commenting on the overall progress of the coalition and tackling multi-cornered contests in almost all seats.

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

Dr Sahruddin said the coalition has been prepared since the dissolution of the state assembly on January 22.

He said the coalition, consisting of Bersatu, Gerakan and also PAS, already expected multiple-cornered contests in all 56 seats for the upcoming state election.

“PN’s strategy in fielding locals in the community as candidates in their respective areas will help in winning as voters need to identify who they are voting for.

“We are confident that our candidates can win. In the end, we must remember that it is the voters that will choose the best candidate,” said Dr Sahruddin.

The former Johor mentri besar and incumbent Bukit Kepong assemblyman also touched on the young and first-time voters under the new bloc of voters from ages 18 to 21, popularly known as Undi18.

He said due to an overall increase in young voters, PN has already held several programmes as an early initiative to engage them.

“From our feedback, young voters have placed importance on integrity as a main point in choosing their candidate,” said Dr Sahruddin, adding that PN also upholds values such as integrity and credibility.

Besides that, Dr Sahruddin also took note of the rising Covid-19 cases reported nationwide, saying this was mainly due to the Omicron variant.

“The public should not be overly alarmed as the symptoms reported from Omicron are usually mild.

“However as a precaution, we need to strictly adhere to the prescribed standard operating procedures (SOP) as well as going for the Covid-19 booster vaccine jabs,” he said.

At present, Umno and Bersatu, together with their Barisan Nasional (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 two supposed allies are expected to clash heavily in the state election for Johor, the birthplace of Umno but also where the Malay nationalist party lost significant ground in the 2018 general election.

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