FACED with the possibility of losing Johor in the 14th general election, Menteri Besar Khaled Nordin has defended the Barisan Nasional federal government, whose popularity has dropped even as the state government’s rises.
Khaled, who heads Johor BN, said the southern state had prospered because of the coalition was in charge in Putrajaya as well as in Nusajaya.
He dismissed Pakatan Harapan’s efforts to capture Johor as a ploy to convince voters it was serious about taking over the federal government.
“The opposition wants to show that they can take over the government, and to show that they mean what they say, they have to show that they want to capture Johor.
“They are doing this because of Muhyiddin (Yassin). It is as if the Muhyiddin factor can help PH take over Johor,” Khaled told The Malaysian Insight.
Khaled’s comments followed recent survey findings that while a majority of Johoreans give the state government the thumbs up, they were dissatisfied with the federal adminstration.
In the survey of 1,007 respondents conducted by the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research last month, 55% were not satisfied with the federal government.
But when it came to the government of Johor, 68% said the state was headed in the right direction, while 26% disagreed.
A similarly high number of respondents were happy with Khaled at 58%, compared with 17% who were not.
The respondents said Khaled’s strengths were his good management skills, leadership quality and concern for the people’s welfare.
In contrast, about 55% were dissatisfied with the federal government, with 54% unhappy with Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The survey, said Khaled, merely compiled the views and beliefs of voters, who could be persuaded to change their minds.
“In the days leading up of GE14, we will explain to them that the effectiveness of the state government also depended on who was in control at the federal level.”
‘Umno and BN will not give way’
Khaled said Johor BN would go all out to defend its position against the PH onslaught.
“As veterans, Umno and BN will not give way. We will fight and ensure that they do not win.”
The same survey found that 51% of respondents in Johor were open to a non-BN party governing Johor.
The findings are a warning to Umno that all is not well in Johor, the Malay-based party’s birthplace and long-established stronghold.
Support for Umno among Malays in the state was found to have dropped to 58% in January. This was in stark contrast to the 83% of the popular vote Johor BN received from the community in the last general election in 2013.
PH deputy president Muhyiddin, former menteri besar and Johor Umno chief, is spearheading the opposition’s campaign to capture the state.
Muhyiddin’s party, Bersatu, a PH component party, is contesting 18 of Johor’s 56 state seats, most of which are Umno territory.
Coalition partners DAP will contest 14 seats and PKR and Amanah, 12 seats each.