Bersatu suffers defections in lead up to Johor state election
KUALA LUMPUR: Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) has been rocked by a series of defections among its members ahead of the Johor state polls.
On Sunday (Feb 6) night, about 300 members of the Tanjung Piai Bersatu division defected to Parti Warisan (Warisan).
The division’s former secretary Hishamuddin Busri, who led the defections, claimed that Bersatu had lost its direction and that it was not in line with the aspirations of the grassroots.
“I am representing my friends to announce that we are leaving Bersatu with immediate effect. We were not coerced by anyone and are doing it willingly,” he said during a press conference on Sunday.
Mr Hishamuddin said 300 Bersatu members from the division would be joining Warisan because it is a multiracial party that suited the changing times in the country.
Also present during the press conference was Warisan vice-president Junz Wong, who said that the party would decide on its participation in the Johor polls by next week.
Malay Mail had reported that the Desa Harmoni branch under the Pasir Gudang division defected to United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) a day before.
These defections followed the recent resignations of two state Bersatu leaders, who said they had lost confidence in the leadership of Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin.
In late January, Johor Bersatu chief Mazlan Bujang and former exco member Mohd Izhar Ahmad announced their resignations from Bersatu.
Both said that they would back the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition for the state election.
On Jan 22, Johor Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar consented to the dissolution of the Johor state assembly “to pave the way for the state election”.
The Election Commission will be holding a special meeting on Wednesday to fix the dates for the election.
The recent demise of Bersatu member Osman Sapian meant that the partners ruling the Johor state government, including Bersatu and BN, held a slim one-seat majority. The ruling coalition had 28 out of the 56 seats.
The Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, made up of Democratic Action Party, Parti Amanah Negara and Parti Keadilan Rakyat, had 27 seats.
The razor-thin majority had prompted calls by certain quarters in UMNO to call for polls to consolidate power.
The other parties including Bersatu and the opposition had urged against holding the polls, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bersatu was founded by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad after he quit UMNO. The new party teamed up with PH in the 2018 general election and unseated BN as the ruling government.
Dr Mahathir served as the country’s prime minister until Mr Muhyiddin, who is Bersatu president, pulled the party out of PH and worked with UMNO to topple the PH administration in a political manoeuvre known as “Sheraton Move” in February 2020.
In May the same year, Dr Mahathir was sacked by Bersatu. Mr Muhyiddin, who took over the prime minister’s post, eventually resigned in August 2021 after losing majority support in the Lower House.
The chief minister’s post in Johor went from Bersatu to UMNO following the Sheraton Move. Bersatu was part of the Johor state government made up of BN and Perikatan Nasional (PN).
While Bersatu is currently aligned to the federal government led by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob of UMNO, they competed against one another in the recent Melaka polls.
VOTERS SHOULD CONSIDER PN’S TRACK RECORD: AZMIN
Meanwhile, Senior Minister and Minister of International Trade and Industry Mohamed Azmin Ali meanwhile said that Johor voters should consider PN’s track record in administering the state during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Within a short period, the country was facing a health and economic crisis, but Perikatan successfully brought the country out of this crisis under the leadership of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin,” he was quoted as saying by Bernama during a function on Sunday night.
Mr Mohamed Azmin, who is Bersatu supreme council member, claimed that gaining world recognition as the best government in managing COVID-19 recovery efforts was one of PN’s extraordinary successes.
“The Nikkei COVID-19 Recovery Index ranked Malaysia 13th compared to 115th last year. We need to continue this success and I leave it to the rakyat to make the right decision in the state election,” he told reporters after attending a Chinese New Year dinner with representatives of small- and medium-size enterprises.
Source: CNA/rv(tx)/Rashvinjeet S Bedi