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COMMENT | Lost in Johor: A haunted campaign

COMMENT | With only two days left in the Johor campaign, the mood is getting (a bit) warmer. There is more buzz in the coffee shops with the occasional shout, more frenzied movement on the ground by campaigners (some bringing goodies), phones are blasted with messages from mysterious numbers and a rising expectation of a reckoning.

Reluctant and undecided voters are starting to look at what is on offer, with some still never having heard of a few of the parties contesting in this Saturday’s state election.

Despite the pressing need to address the challenges facing Johor, including greater assistance for vulnerable voters, economic recovery and recalibration of the state’s economic model, the focus of the campaign remains on the past. All of the parties are being haunted by their ghosts – some of them still alive and kicking.

Boss is back

The dominant issue of the Johor campaign has been convicted criminal former prime minister Najib Razak. He has been the most talked-about campaigner. He knows that with every vote he can deliver, it will increase the chances that he can get away with his crimes.

Not surprising, both Perikatan Nasional (PN) and Pakatan Harapan/PKR are arguing that a vote for Umno is a vote to empower the former prime minister. A ‘big-win’ for Umno is seen to lead to an early national election, one in which, it is argued, Najib will be let off for his crimes.

Najib knocking on the door in Johor is having different effects. Spooked, some traditional Harapan voters are now considering voting, recognising that if they stay home, they are empowering him and his ‘court cluster’ allies... 

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