JOHOREANS attending a Pakatan Harapan (PH) programme in Johor Baru last night say they are driven by despair and anger over the increasingly high cost of living, to throw their support for the opposition pact in the next elections.

With no hope of reprieve from the current leadership, many say they are willing to give the opposition a chance to relieve their economic hardships.

Abdul Malik Baharudin, 26, said the skyrocketing prices of every day goods have affected most locals, especially those from lower-income brackets.

“The majority of villagers, when they come together, will talk about the prices of goods and GST (goods and services tax).

“Johoreans all round are feeling squeezed by the rising cost of living,”   said Malik, who was born and raised in Kg Datuk Sulaiman Menteri where PH held last night’s programme to rally for election volunteers.

In spite of the late-night rain, more than 100 supporters turned up for the event which saw the presence of top PH leaders from the state, including Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin, Bersatu deputy president Mukhriz Mahathir, state election chairman Salahuddin Ayub, state DAP chairman Liew Chin Tong and state PKR chairman Hassan Karim.

Another local attending the event, Norizam Hamzah, said a drastic change in government was needed because the current leaders have clearly failed to do their jobs.

“We cannot go on like this because the cost of living keeps going up,” he said.

“Nonsense is going on, but still there are those who want to continue supporting the current leadership.

“Perhaps it’s because they have vested interest and want to preserve their own financial security.

“But for those of us without interests, we want a change fast,” said the 44-year-old.

Kg Datuk Sulaiman Menteri, which is also known as Kg Majidee Baru, is located in the state seat of Tanjung Puteri which is currently held by Adam Sumiru (Barisan Nasional).

The Tanjung Puteri and Stulang state seats form the parliamentary seat of Johor Baru, which has long been held by Umno’s Shahrir Abdul Samad.

However, army veteran Effendy Abdullah, 68, said bread-and-butter issues in the past two years have caused the people of Johor to finally be willing to give the opposition a chance, if they can prove to resolve the problem of rising cost of living.

“It’s time that (Prime Minister) Najib (Razak) steps down because he has made too many mistakes.”

However, he stressed that the PH leadership must prove to voters that they are united in wanting to take down BN in the 14th general election which must be held by August.

“Don’t fight among yourselves. Instead, fight with sincerity and put aside personal interests.”   

Noor Hafiz Ahmed Nordin, who was also born and raised in Kg Datuk Sulaiman Menteri, said Umno can no longer look at the locals as its fixed deposit.

“Umno’s stronghold is now shaky, and they, too, are aware of this,” said the 33-year-old.

Malik concurred, saying that PH was in the best position to wrest control of Putrajaya from BN’s grip if the coalition could convince Johoreans that it has a plan to relieve the people of their economic hardships.

“Looking at the response of the villagers tonight, I see a very bright opportunity, especially with the experience of those in Bersatu.

“InsyaAllah, we will be able to tear down the stronghold of Umno.”