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COMMENT | A new Malay protector? PN nips at Umno’s heels
COMMENT | All eyes are on the outcome of the Johor polls today – with Umno/BN expecting victory. From the onset, this was their election to lose, and they have been going all out to secure a decisive victory.

During the last few hours of the campaign, money was going down, aiming both to secure (and, on the part of Perikatan Nasional, thwart) a coveted two-thirds BN/Umno outcome, a return to hegemony.

Going into the election Umno/BN had considerable advantages - their party machinery, long history of party dominance in the state and campaign resources. They also had an oiled and seasoned multi-ethnic coalition which allowed them to extend across communities and a flush state budget that assured a core base through local patronage and financial support.

Increasingly, Bersatu-led Perikatan Nasional (PN) worked to challenge these advantages. Their campaign aimed to undercut Umno’s role as the protector of the Malays, not to just discredit the leadership of Umno’s criminally convicted personalities.

PN will fall short, but it has made gains on the ground, not least of which is an increasing challenge for Umno among Malays.

Rising PN challenge

Umno’s traditional advantages are strong, but not as strong as the past. The party is much weaker than it was. Compared to the Malacca polls, Umno’s machinery was more uneven in Johor, and noticeably, Johor Umno leaders were not prominent in the state campaign, with the exception of caretaker Menteri Besar and state Umno chief Hasni Mohammad.

Hasni’s consultative leadership was a plus going into the campaign, although his meme-worthy Umno-Singapore campaign remark has not been well received outside of...

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