Malaysia Chronicle

Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin claimed the country is in more financial trouble than the Umno-led federal government is letting on and said he will reveal details in due time.

He tried to drive the point that a “business as usual” BN will not be able to secure the country’s future at a time when even countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia are leapfrogging Malaysia in economic development.

“Yesterday (Feb 17), I asked Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz to deliver a report… I will leak (bocor) it in time … (about) the position of our national finance.

“How long can we last? How long will our annual revenue be able to pay salaries and support our national development? Will we have enough money to support our huge pension payment?

“That is as much as I will say (for now). The country’s situation is not as rosy as being let on. This is the biggest challenge at the national level,” Muhyiddin said during the official launch of PN in Johor last night.

The venue of the launch, attended by some 2,000 people, was organised deep in Umno territory, at Taman Pasak Indah, a stone’s throw away from Felda Pasak and Felda Air Tawar 3.

Bersatu operatives told Malaysiakini they wanted to engage rural voters, a key vote bank for BN, instead of the suburban Pagoh where Muhyiddin has been the MP since 1978.

Umno’s heartland

Muhyiddin spent most of his speech targeting BN and Umno, paying little attention to Pakatan Harapan which hardly has a presence on the east coast of Johor.

The venue was located within the state constituency of Johor Lama, which Umno won with a 5,807-vote majority in the 2018 general election despite strong anti-establishment sentiment at the time.

“Here (Johor) may be where Umno was born, but tonight here is also where PN was born,” he said.

Muhyiddin related how some rural folks still think that he was still part of BN and he stressed that he is now part of PN to those present.

Addressing Felda folks, he said there was no need for them to feel indebted to Umno which was responsible for setting up much of the Felda settlements in the rural areas, stating that the Umno they knew died in 1988 when it was deregistered due to an internal clash.

The dominant faction formed Umno Baru and emerged victoriously. They later renamed Umno Baru to Umno once again.

Muhyiddin blasted Umno for triggering snap polls in Johor even though there was no threat to its majority.

He also noted how many Johoreans, who are reliant on their southern border with Singapore, has suffered for almost two years due to the closure of international borders amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Muhyiddin, who is part of the National Recovery Council (NRC), also stepped up pressure on the Umno-led federal government to fully reopen the country’s international borders.

Full reopening

The NRC had agreed to a full reopening of the national border on March 1 but the government has not followed through with the recommendations.

“There are those who ask why do we want to reopen the border so soon when Covid-19 is still around. That’s true, I was even infected with Covid-19 last week. I just ended compulsory quarantine three days ago.

“But look at me, I’m fine. There weren’t many symptoms. I’m not saying it is not dangerous nor are doctors saying to ignore Covid-19. There are side effects.

“But the situation then and now is different,” he said.

To date, around 80.9 percent of the country’s population have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. However, both infections and hospitalisation are on the rise due to the Omicron variant, which is considered more infectious but less deadly.

Muhyiddin went on to nudge Bersatu supreme council member Azmin Ali, who is also the international trade and industry minister and was present on stage, to push the government to reopen the country’s borders so that the Johor economy can be restarted.

New and young

The former prime minister also emphasised the importance of new and young voters in the upcoming Johor election, stating that they could determine the outcome of the polls.

The Johor polls are the first election where the automatic voter registration system will come into force as well as a lower voting age of 18, down from 21.

This will see an increase of more than 700,000 voters to 2.5 million compared to the 1.8 million voters in 2018. Around 175,000 of the new voters are aged between 18 to 20.

“Our responsibility is to identify them and make sure they will vote for PN,” he said.

Muhyiddin said the seat negotiation between the PN component contesting in the Johor polls – Bersatu, PAS and Gerakan – have been resolved.

He said the candidates will be vetted by the cops, MACC and Insolvency Department and will be required to take an anti-corruption pledge.

Malaysiakini understands that the candidates will be announced on Feb 23. Johoreans go to the polls on March 12. The nomination day is set for Feb 26.



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