KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 ― As the various federal Opposition parties vie with one another in several seat tussles, the major coalitions of Barisan Nasional (BN) and Perikatan Nasional (PN) will see them go head-to-head clash in all 56 seats in the March 12 Johor state election.
According to both coalition’s candidate lists released yesterday, several areas stand to witness intense fights, with several prominent candidates vying for the same seats.
BN and its lynchpin party Umno are currently at loggerheads with PN in the run-up to the Johor state election as leaders from both coalitions have in recent weeks traded barbs with one another following the withdrawal of support from lawmakers that triggered the change in federal government last year.
Among those to look out for is the seat of Benut, which is being defended by its incumbent Datuk Hasni Mohammad, who is also Johor Mentri Besar, in a possible four-cornered fight with PN, PKR and Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang).
Hasni, a two-term Benut assemblyman since 2008, is also Johor Umno chief.
In 2018, he won the seat in the last state election with a 4,447-vote majority over his closest rival from PKR.
In the upcoming state election, he will face off with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s candidate Datuk Isa Abdul Hamid who is also a senator in the Dewan Negara.
Another seat to look out for is the Machap seat under the Simpang Renggam parliamentary constituency, where Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi from Umno is set to contest.
Onn Hafiz, who is the grandson of the late Umno founder and president Datuk Onn Jaafar, will see him move from his incumbent seat of Layang-Layang to Machap, both of which are under the same parliamentary constituency.
He will face off with PN’s Azlisham Azahar and Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) in a possible four-cornered fight.
Adjacent to Machap, the Rengit seat under the Batu Pahat parliamentary constituency will also see an intense showdown between BN and PN and possibly Pejuang in a four-cornered fight.
Umno supreme council member Datuk Mohd Puad Zarkashi will see him vying for the seat with PN’s Mohammad Huzair Lajis and Pejuang’s Nizam Bashir Abdul Kariem ― a known constitutional lawyer ― who took many by surprise in the candidate announcement.
Mohd Puad, who is former Special Affairs Department (Jasa) chief, was previously dropped as a candidate in the previous general election and had subsequently hit back at Umno’s leadership for its decision.
Former Johor mentri besar Datuk Dr Sahruddin Jamal from PN is also a candidate to look out for where he is set to defend his incumbent seat of Bukit Kepong against BN’s Ismail Mohamad in a possible four-cornered fight.
Apart from BN, Dr Sahruddin will face Muda co-founder Nurafiqah M. Zulkifli and Pejuang’s Md Taib Md Suhut.
Dr Sahruddin, who has a medical background, previously won the seat with a 1,273 majority.
The Election Commission has set March 12 as polling day with early voting on March 8. Nomination day is set for today.