Seminar on “’The Johor Model’: The Tanjung Piai By-Election Experience”

In this seminar, Datuk Ir. Hasni Mohammad draws from his experience leading Barisan Nasional’s by-election effort in Tanjung Piai to explain the “Johor Model” of campaigning. He will also share his insights for reclaiming Johor in future elections – a state that is the birthplace of UMNO and once perceived as an impregnable fortress for Barisan Nasional.

Malaysia Studies Programme

Tuesday, 18 February 2020 – Datuk Ir. Hasni Mohammad spoke at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute to share his campaign experiences in the 16 November 2019 Tanjung Piai by-election. Datuk Hasni is the Johor UMNO Liaison Committee Chairman and has represented Benut state constituency since 2008. He also served as campaign director for the Tanjung Piai by-election, and formerly held the Public Works, Rural and Regional Development portfolio in Johor State Executive Council. Datuk Hasni was educated in the University of Missouri.

Datuk Ir. Hasni Mohammad (right) shared the secrets behind BN by-elections winning streak in 2019. Dr Francis Hutchinson moderated the seminar. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

Datuk Hasni prefaced his seminar by highlighting the landslide victory obtained by Barisan Nasional in the Tanjung Piai by-election. He commented that the 15,000 majority obtained by the Barisan Nasional candidate Dr Wee Jeck Seng was a unexpected turnaround, considering that Pakatan Harapan had captured Tanjung Piai in the 14th General Election. Datuk Hasni shared three factors which resulted in the unexpected landslide victory for Barisan Nasional. Firstly, despite internal pressures within UMNO to nominate its Tanjung Piai divisional chief as the candidate, Barisan Nasional component parties chose to pursue collaborate in the spirit of consensus building with MCA’s Dr Wee Jeck Seng eventually given the contest ticket. Secondly, BN possessed an effective campaign machinery which also included PAS grassroots members under the Muafakat Nasional coalition. Lastly, residents in Tanjung Piai were disappointed towards the performance of Pakatan Harapan administration considering that wage growth remains negligible while inflation continues unabated. The decision to defer construction of High Speed Rail and Rapid Transit System further fuelled perception among the Tanjung Piai electorate that the incumbent administration is less interested to deliver economically valuable projects.

Datuk Hasni concluded that Barisan Nasional Johorean leaders are cognisant about Johor’s multiracial demographic. He commented that Barisan Nasional Johor would reject divisive racial politicking, while ensuring that the party remains inclusive and pluralistic. Datuk Hasni remarked that Barisan Nasional Johor would champion for Johor Nationalism based upon multiracialism and consensus building across races.

In the question and answer session, Datuk Hasni responded to a range of questions pertaining to Chinese sentiments towards Muafakat Nasional, political rejuvenation within Barisan Nasional leadership, social media strategies adopted by Barisan Nasional, amongst others. The seminar drew 40 participants from diverse backgrounds including academia, businesses, civil service, and the public.

The audience asked questions on an array of topics including Chinese sentiments towards Muafakat Nasional and social media strategies adopted by Barisan Nasional, amongst others. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)