PEKAN NENAS, April 29 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak today pitched for a win for the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition he leads during his tour in Johor, echoing Johor BN chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman’s call to keep the “Johor way” in the birthplace of Umno.
“We have our Johor moderate way,” Abdul Ghani told the mostly blue-clad crowd as he asked the people of Johor to continue supporting BN in the May 5 polls.
Abdul Ghani, who is also BN’s candidate for the Gelang Patah federal seat, urged the people to accept him as an “old friend” as he had served them for 18 years as the Johor mentri besar.
“Accept me not just as a former mentri besar, but as an old friend,” the four-term state leader said, before saying “old friend” in Mandarin to the largely Malay crowd, with those from the Chinese and Indian communities also present.
“So I as an old friend invite (you), let’s all give full support to Wee Jeck Seng, Suhaimi Salleh and Wong You Fong,” Abdul Ghani said in rallying support for BN’s candidates in the Tanjong Piai federal seat, and the two state seats of Kukup and Pekan Nenas.
Najib then told a packed tent with a seating capacity of around 1,600 to look at their spouse and children when deciding on their votes, urging them to choose a better future.
“Don’t (choose) a future that is full of problems, with a future that is full of serious internal conflicts. Don’t push away harmony.
“As Datuk Ghani said, the Johor way has been proven to be successful all this while,” the caretaker prime minister said in his speech as the crowd held up numerous “I love PM” banners.
“The best farewell present for Datuk Ghani, we win big in Johor, start in Tanjung Piai, after that don’t forget Pontian, don’t forget Sembrong and don’t forget Gelang Patah,” Najib later said, having noted that Abdul Ghani had served the people of Johor for many years.
The BN candidates for Pontian and Sembrong, Datuk Ahmad Maslan and Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, were also present at the event at Dataran Pasar Lambak.
Earlier in his speech, Najib acknowledged that Johor has always been a BN stronghold.
“I want to meninjau (scout), I want to check this Barisan fortress, whether it is still our strong fortress or not,” he said as the crowd cheered.
He then drove home the message of Johor’s history as the place where the struggle for a modern Malaysia had started, urging the people to defend the state.
He also announced today that 1,000 units of affordable housing will be built in Tanjung Piai.
Earlier, Tanjung Piai BN chairman Datuk Md Othman Yusof had listed three requests to the prime minister, namely the inclusion of the whole area in the lucrative Iskandar Malaysia region, the review of the roads here and the provision of cheap homes.
As BN battles against the fierce onslaught of Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in Johor, the current BN chairman Najib this morning greeted locals here.
The Umno president had breakfast with his wife, Abdul Ghani and other local BN leaders at a restaurant as a large group of blue-shirted supporters looked on.
Najib will be appearing at an afternoon event in Johor Baru geared at the Chinese community using his popular moniker “Ah Jib Gor” as he goes on the stump for BN’s Johor Baru candidate Tan Sri Shahrir Samad.
Najib will be finishing off his first trip in Johor during the campaign period with a night session at Kolej Universiti Selatan (Southern University College), Skudai.
BN’s former chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is also the country’s longest-serving prime minister, is expected here tomorrow to bolster support for the ruling coalition and further drive its campaign.
PR is aiming to make further inroads into Johor — where it had won one federal seat and six state seats in 2008 — in its bid to wrest control of Putrajaya from the ruling BN coalition.
The southern state, which is BN’s stronghold and Umno’s birthplace, has 26 federal seats and 56 state seats. BN won 25 and 50 of these seats respectively in 2008.