What happened to Lim Kit Siang at Bakar Batu, where he and Pakatan Harapan supporters had to abandon their ceramah after the “locals” ejected them, was not a surprise.
UMNO knows its support is fast diminishing in Johor, and a combination of anger, panic and desperation has forced them to use high-handed tactics. Johor Baru is their fortress but, as I said two weeks ago, JB is vulnerable even though Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad won the parliamentary seat in 2013 with a majority of about 10,000 votes.
With the right candidates, JB and southern Johor can give Pakatan Harapan the opportunity to capture the state. That’s why I suggested to Nurul Izzah Anwar that since Pakatan had allotted JB to PKR, she should go there — she’d win against Shahrir. However, Pakatan must expect more provocations like the one in Bakar Batu.
Some people are trying to create a cultural and racial divide in this election, and this is UMNO’s political narrative in Johor. UMNO said that the DAP didn’t understand “village culture”, which is rubbish. There are no villages in JB to start with, but more importantly, DAP has become more and more acceptable to Malays everywhere.
UMNO then said UMNO and Malays were inseparable, and that the Opposition with DAP in the team would betray Malays and the interests of Johor. This is not a new tactic. UMNO made extensive use of it in 2013 and yet Pakatan gained many seats. There is no reason to believe that a repeat of the same song will bring additional support to UMNO in Johor this time.
To me, the most compelling reason why Johor will turn to the Opposition is the Pakatan man, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. He is a quintessential Johorean Malay. He is knowledgeable and articulate but he is not a show-off. He is a religious man who cares about Islam, like most Johor Malays, but he and other Johor Malays will not countenance converting Malaysia into the kind of Taliban-style Islamic state that is favoured by PAS and JAKIM operatives.
Muhyiddin is serious in his demeanour and strong in character. Although he can be aloof at times, he is someone who cares about the people of Johor. He has the respect of many Johor Malays and will be the principal reason why Johor will fall to Pakatan.
To Johor Malays, I say this: make a new history instead of defending the promise that UMNO made in 1946. Umno has changed beyond recognition. Only a clean government with good systems in place, coupled with honest leaders, will truly defend and protect the interests of Malays and Johor.
UMNO today is just a thing of the past and is bereft of substance. You can start afresh by forging a new government for the country where the people are the ones who really matter.
My best wishes to my DAP colleagues; and of course to all Malaysians celebrating the New year
Kong Hee Fatt Choy!