JOHOR BARU: Barisan Nasional is likely to win 16 of the 26 parliamentary seats in Johor in the 15th General Election (GE15), says state Umno information chief Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.

The coalition initially set a target of winning at least 20 seats.

However, based on research and information gathered by the information bureau, only 16 were “realistic”, he said.

“We have to be honest in setting our goals, and after careful considerations, we are confident that only 16 seats can be won by our candidates, and 18 seats if we are lucky.

“We are still going for the initial 20-seat target, but that will need strong cooperation from all the component parties under Barisan,” he said when met by reporters after officiating the Johor Umno veterans’ information workshop on social media at the Johor Umno headquarters here yesterday.

When asked if the candidate discussion had been finalised, Dr Adham said he would let the central leadership committee decide, but he hoped that the candidates chosen would have experience.

“We need candidates who can handle international matters at the federal level as we are dealing with a variety of issues such as the global food crisis and supply chain,” he added.

When asked to comment on whether there would be any young candidates in the coming GE15, the Tenggara MP reiterated that experience must come first as it was an important factor.

“All of us have agreed that the Johor state government should be led by young leaders and we have no hard feelings about that.

“But for GE15, we need winnable candidates with experience for the MP seats,” he said.

Dr Adham also said that Johor Umno would be having a meeting on Sept 19 led by state Umno chief Datuk Seri Hasni Mohammad to discuss the appointment of the divisional election director.

“Usually, the district Umno chief gets the job of divisional election director.

“For example, I was the director for the Tenggara Parliament (constituency),” he said, adding that the state and central leaders would choose the candidate.

Last month, Barisan deputy chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said that the coalition was aiming to make Johor its “fortress” once more, and wanted to win 20 out of the 26 parliamentary seats in the GE15.

He said the coalition’s priority now was to win big, with a high target set for Johor Barisan.

In GE14, Barisan won eight of the 26 parliamentary seats in Johor, with Umno winning seven – Parit Sulong, Sembrong, Mersing, Tenggara, Kota Tinggi, Pontian and Pengerang – and MCA taking Ayer Hitam.

However, Mersing MP Datuk Dr Abd Latiff Ahmad subsequently left Umno to join Bersatu, cutting Barisan’s share of parliamentary seats to seven.

Barisan’s control of parliamentary seats went back to eight after MCA’s Datuk Seri Dr Wee Jeck Seng won the Tanjung Piai seat in a by-election on Nov 16, 2019.