SHAH ALAM: A battle royale is looming as Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and PAS have agreed to join forces to challenge Umno’s dominance in the upcoming Johor state polls.

Both parties in the Perikatan Nasional coalition are set to take on the Barisan Nasional linchpin and its partners MCA and MIC.

This alliance was announced by Perikatan chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin after leaders from Bersatu and PAS held a two-day muzakarah (discussion).

“It is a historic moment for both parties to sit at the same table to discuss several issues on the political direction of their parties and Perikatan,” he said at a press conference yesterday.

Among the resolutions was for both parties to work towards political stability for the country while strengthening the Perikatan pact.

“We will reinforce the cooperation between Bersatu and PAS, working as one team all the way down to the grassroots level,” he added.Muhyiddin, who is also Bersatu president, said Perikatan Nasional parties would contest using the coalition’s logo.

He added that both parties would also adopt a common strategy.

Muhyiddin said the coalition would meet in the next few days on seat allocation between Bersatu and PAS, in light of their decision to contest in all 56 state seats.

When asked, the Bersatu president said the coalition had yet to decide on its mentri besar candidate.“We have not even come up with our list of candidates yet,” he said.

Also present at the press conference were PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and other top leaders from both parties.

Barisan, who are partners in the Federal Government with Perikatan, are likely to go solo in Johor, as seen in the Melaka election in November last year.

In that election, Barisan won 21 out of the 28 seats to win the polls, while Perikatan won only two seats out of 28.

Muhyiddin said Perikatan would take heed of its performance in Melaka and strategise accordingly in Johor.

“Johor is a different state. It is bigger and there are more seats and voters there. The constituencies are larger.

“We will put a proper strategy in place to determine the winning factor in Johor,” he added.

Muhyiddin said Perikatan would be fielding a mixture of young and experienced candidates, while taking into account the introduction of 18- to 20-year-old voters in Johor following the implementation of Undi18 this year.

“Perikatan also has a lot of prominent figureheads in Johor who can be fielded as our candidates,” said Muhyiddin.

He added that Bersatu and PAS would focus on “fence-sitters” and young voters as part of its strategy.

Without specifically mentioning names, he said there were some who had “closed the door” towards unity at the expense of the rakyat.

The Johor state assembly was dissolved on Jan 22, paving the way for the state election to be held within 60 days.

Prior to the dissolution, the Barisan-led state government had a simple majority of 28 seats – Barisan (16), Bersatu (11) and PAS (one) – compared to Pakatan’s 27 seats, following the death of Bersatu’s Kempas assemblyman Datuk Osman Sapian.

The Election Commission will meet on Feb 9 to fix the polling date.