JOHOR BARU, Oct 18 — The leadership tussle within Johor Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) has come to an end, after the party’s central committee accepted the resignation of incumbent state chief Datuk Shahruddin Md Salleh last weekend.

Malay Mail understands that Shahruddin had in fact submitted his resignation to the central committee and party chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in August.

As a result, Pejuang president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir was appointed to key posts in the state chapter with the inclusion of Malay nationalist political coalition Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA) as part of preparations for the 15th general election (GE15).

A national Pejuang source said Mukhriz was appointed to helm the state chapter as its state chief, while its state deputy chief Nornekman Osman will maintain his post.


“At the same time, Nornekman was appointed as Johor GTA chief and Mukhriz was named as the coalition’s state adviser.

“The latest arrangements were made late Saturday following the resignation of Shahruddin, who is also the incumbent Sri Gading MP.

“The new appointments, which have not been reported yet, will hopefully unite the two main factions in Johor Pejuang to face the coming GE15 next month,” said the party source on condition of anonymity when met by Malay Mail here today.


The source was commenting on rumours that Shahruddin, a known loyalist to Dr Mahathir, had resigned from Pejuang due to differences with the party’s state chapter leadership.

Nornekman is the son of former Johor mentri besar, the late Datuk Osman Sapian, He is said to be a loyal follower of Mukhriz from the early Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) days after both left Umno.

A Johor Pejuang official, when contacted by Malay Mail, confirmed the new appointments and said that they would be officially announced by the party soon.

Besides the top two posts, the same source added that seasoned politician Dr Zaini Abu Bakar has been appointed as the new Pejuang state chapter’s secretary.

“As a practising medical doctor and former state assemblyman, Dr Zaini has the needed experience to assist Johor Pejuang as the party prepares itself for GE15,” said the source.

Another party source explained that Mukhriz’s role in Johor was to unite the factions led by Nornekman as well as those previously loyal to Shahruddin.

He said that the move will see direct planning from Mukhriz and also Normekman on both Pejuang and GTA in Johor.

The same source said that both Mukhriz and Nornekman’s appointment was a welcome by members to rejuvenate the party’s state chapter.

“Both leaders will be able to strategise and initiate various programmes to strengthen the party’s Johor chapter before GE15,” said the source, adding that the move will also hopefully heal the damage following Johor Pejuang’s disastrous outing during the state elections in March where the party lost all 42 state seats contested in.

Being a Malay-Muslim based party, Pejuang and its GTA coalition are viewing Johor, especially its rural Malay areas, as an important frontline state.

However, Pejuang’s recent Johor state election participation revealed their weakness in the state as well as struggling to be relevant as the Malay-Muslim support has slowly returned to Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) after GE14 in 2018.