JOHOR BAHRU: Perikatan Nasional (PN) launched its manifesto for the Johor polls on Wednesday (Mar 2), with an emphasis on economic growth.
PN chairman Muhyiddin Yassin said that the coalition would prepare a comprehensive and holistic decade-long plan to strengthen the state’s economy.
“The plan will prioritise the involvement of people from all walks of life and focuses on strategic and high-impact industries, including digital infrastructure, modern public transport, green energy generation and smart agriculture,” he said at the launch of the coalition’s manifesto.
He said that with holistic planning, more high-income and quality jobs could be offered to the people of Johor.
Themed “Demi Bangsa Johor (For the People of Johor)”, PN’s pledges are based on eight pillars, namely corruption-free leadership, strengthening of the economy, dealing with the cost of living, care for the people, social welfare, infrastructure efficiency, boosting tourism and environmental sustainability.
Mr Muhyiddin claimed that the manifesto was not rhetoric, but “realistic” and “practical” commitments.
During a press conference after the manifesto launch, Mr Muhyiddin said that as the chairman of the National Recovery Council, he was concerned about Johor’s situation.
“Johor was among the states most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. For the coming years, there needs to be a persistent effort for Johor to recover and rise again. Not just like the year 2019, but even better,” he said.
“We know exactly what we need to do to bring back Johor or move Johor forward compared to other states,” added Mr Muhyiddin, who was Johor chief minister from 1986 to 1995.
PN will be contesting all 56 seats, with component parties Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), and Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (Gerakan) standing in 33 seats, 15 seats and eight seats respectively.
As for PN’s candidate for chief minister, Mr Muhyiddin said that it would be announced at the right time.
REOPENING BORDERS WITH SINGAPORE
Mr Muhyiddin said that to stimulate the economic recovery of Johor, PN urged the federal government to open the country’s borders, especially with Singapore.
He said Johor would receive a lot of economic benefits when the borders are open.
“We will be able to see the economic activities of the state of Johor, especially in the tourism and retail sectors will return to liveliness with the opening of the country's borders.
“This will certainly stimulate the state's economic growth, create new employment opportunities and increase people's income. The opening of the border will also make it easier for people in Johor who work in Singapore to commute to work and return to their families,” he said.
Several Pakatan Harapan candidates have also made a similar call in Johor Bahru on Feb 27, urging the government to reopen borders with Singapore.
They said that the reopening of the Causeway and Second Link would boost the economy for southern Johor, and a test and release approach would be the best way to facilitate this.
In November, Singapore and Malaysia launched air and land vaccinated travel lanes (VTLs).
But in December, both countries froze all new ticket sales for VTL flights and buses between Dec 23 and Jan 20 amid fears of the spread of the Omicron variant.
Ticket sales from Jan 21 on air and land VTLs have been capped at 50 per cent of the allocated quota, but have since resumed to 100 per cent following an announcement in mid-February.
The quota would also be progressively increased, the authorities had said.
The 15th Johor state election is a crowded affair with 239 candidates vying for 56 seats.
Early voting will take place on Mar 8, while polling has been set for Mar 12.
The state assembly was dissolved by Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar on Jan 22.
Prior to the dissolution, Mr Hasni Mohammad, the chief minister, justified that his state government needed a fresh mandate as it only held a slim majority following the death of assemblyman and former chief minister Osman Sapian in December last year.
Mr Hasni said that the election was necessary as the stability of the Johor state government was a prerequisite for investors and businesses to expand their operations in the state.
More than 2.59 million voters are eligible to cast their ballot in this state election, with the Election Commission targeting a 70 per cent voter turnout.