by Liew Chin Tong
Johor makes history each time Malaysia is at a turning point.
When the Malays rose up against the Malayan Union proposal in 1946, Umno was formed in Johor.
When the Alliance and later Barisan Nasional needed a base in both Malaya and Malaysia, Johor was key to election successes from the early years of Merdeka (independence) and very much up to the 2018 general election.
When there was a split in Pas between the hardliners and the moderates, Amanah was formed in Johor in 2015.
When leaders of Umno who were sacked (and some resigned) to form Bersatu, Johor became the ground for its only MP and state assembly member when it was established in 2016.
Most importantly, without the parliamentary seats won in Johor, Pakatan Harapan would not have been able to form the government at the federal level in 2018.
On general election night, 9 May 2018, PH won 18 out of 26 parliamentary seats in Johor and 36 out of 56 state seats. Of the 98 seats PH won in the peninsula, Johor contributed almost 20% of the seats.
The Johor snap polls declared a couple of days ago will not serve the people’s interests except for the Umno leadership of Najib Razak and Zahid Hamidi, as well as Khaled Nordin and Nur Jazlan Mohamed – both their frontrunners in Johor – who pushed for dissolution.
However, this Johor election may not be a walk in the park for Umno. Following the political tradition, it has a few firsts.
Lower voting age
This is the first election to see the lowering of the minimum voting age to 18 and automatically registered voters on board. The new voters were added to the master electoral roll on 14 January 2022.
Allowing 18-year-olds to vote has been an agenda Lim Kit Siang had championed since 1971, more than half a century ago. Parliament finally approved the constitutional amendments to lower the voting age to 18 on 16 July 2019.
Some tried to block the implementation of the move, and there were attempts from Umno to push for Johor assembly’s dissolution before the new voters were added to the list.
The Muda factor
The Johor snap poll will also be the first election for Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman’s Muda since its official registration in December 2021.
It will be a test of the wisdom between Muda and PH leaders to find ways to align with each other to maximise support.
This election will also be a do-or-die battle for Bersatu. Umno is trying to finish off Bersatu, its main Malay party rival, in Johor – the home ground of Mahiaddin Yasin. This is to ensure that Umno does not have to concede any ground to Bersatu in the coming general election.
Now that the state assembly is dissolved, the people have to fight it out and change the course of history through Johor. The people can voice out their support through PH and its allies.
Let Johor be where it all begins. From Johor there will rise a newly realigned force of good that will win this election, to reform the state and the nation and to bring better lives to Bangsa Johor. – Liew Chin Tong/Facebook
Liew Chin Tong is the former MP for Kluang