JOHOR BAHRU: As soon as their nominations for the Johor state election were confirmed on Saturday, candidates have embarked on their efforts to woo voters, each trying to reach as many as they can before the stroke of midnight on March 11.
Many will undoubtedly hit the usual hotspots like markets, restaurants and food eateries in hopes of catching some of the locals throughout the 14 days allotted for campaigning.
The Election Commission (EC) has permitted talks and physical campaigns as well as door-to-door visits, subject to the COVID-19 prevention standard operating procedure (SOP) and candidates will surely make full use of them.
The top leadership of many major political parties were spotted making their rounds today, among them UMNO president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in Batu Pahat and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng in Johor Bahru, as they did their best to garner support for their party’s candidates.
A total of 239 candidates will contest in the upcoming state election, 202 men and 37 women, after nominations closed yesterday.
To what extent will voters embrace the efforts of candidates to win them over, especially those from newcomers like Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) and Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM) as well as Parti Warisan (Warisan), which is making its first foray in Peninsular Malaysia?
Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM) lecturer Assoc Prof Dr Khairunesa Isa is of the view that Malaysians, and by extension Johorians, are now more mature and realistic when it comes to electing candidates they feel could lead or represent them.
“Voters will choose candidates who can approach them and assist them in their daily lives, especially during this national recovery phase, and how well the candidate understands their needs and wants today,” she said on the Suara Johor programme aired by Bernama TV.
She said although there are politically-inexperienced candidates, they could use their experience in their respective professional fields to resolve issues that crop up in their constituencies.
According to her, voters would not just go for an experienced and popular candidate, but will study how well they use both aspects to assist the people.
Universiti Utara Malaysia College of Law, Government and International Studies College lecturer Assoc Prof Dr Ahmad Marthada Mohamed meanwhile felt that besides the candidate factor, voters will also look at political parties that were capable of governing the state well.
He said this gave UMNO and Barisan Nasional (BN), with their extensive experience in governing Johor, an advantage in the state election compared to other parties.
He pointed out that BN had adapted by fielding candidates that reflected the voters’ demographics following the automatic registration of voters aged 18 compared to the previous practice of following party heirarchy.
Over 80 per cent of candidates fielded by BN to contest the 56 state seats are 55 years and below, and 72 per cent are new faces.