JOHOR BAHRU, Aug 25 — Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has given an assurance that the party machinery will continue to work together with Pakatan Harapan (PH) to ensure victory for candidates from the Unity Government alliance in Johor.

He is confident that BN and PH are ready to face the Pulai parliamentary by-election and Simpang Jeram state by-election because the alliance had forged a solid and firm togetherness in the state.

“In my opinion, the political landscape in Johor is very different, the level of togetherness (in the Unity Government) is more solid and stronger. We are confident of facing these two by-elections,” he told reporters after officiating the Belia Desa MADANI @ KKDW programme at B5 Johor Street Market here today.

He said this when commenting on the BN-PH cooperation in facing the Pulai and Simpang Jeram by-elections following the death of its incumbent, Minister of Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub on July 23.

The Election Commission (EC) set polling for the two by-elections on Sept 9. Nomination is tomorrow and early voting on Sept 5.

PH is fielding former Johor state assembly speaker Suhaizan Kaiat in Pulai to take on Perikatan Nasional (PN) candidate, Bersatu’s Pulai Division deputy chief Zulkifli Jaafar. In the Simpang Jeram state by-election, PH candidate, Bakri Amanah Division deputy head Nazri Abdul Rahman will face PN’s Dr Mohd Mazri Yahya, who is a vascular consultant and endovascular surgeon.

Meanwhile, commenting on his plan to meet with the 191 UMNO divisions nationwide from Friday, the UMNO president said this was to provide clarification regarding the BN-PH cooperation.

He said this was due to concerns among, mainly, the party’s voters regarding the cooperation between the two alliances although the Unity Government has been running for the past nine months.

“(Their concern) is mainly due to the deliberate coining of terms like ‘UMDAP’. To BN, we used to collaborate with Gerakan, which formed the government in Penang those days.

“The rejection by UMNO members and Malays then affected the party somewhat, but after BN clarified the matter, the collaboration was eventually well accepted, and it’s not impossible to be done by us (BN-PH),” he said. 

Regarding the solidarity gathering being held by various parties to defend his leadership as UMNO president, Ahmad Zahid said it gave an important message about the importance of retaining the UMNO leadership institution.

“In politics, surely there are ups and downs, so we must change our own mindsets, and together enhance the unity and solidarity in the party so that our alliance is respected,” he said.

According to him, if there is a need to change the leadership, it must be through democratic means, namely through the UMNO elections in three years’ time.


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