JOHOR BARU: Umno veteran Tan Sri Mohamad Aziz says he fully supports Tan Sri Shahrir Samad's decision to defend the Johor Baru parliamentary seat in the upcoming 14th General Election (GE14).
He said he was glad to hear that Shahrir was planning to contest again and described the latter as a leader of integrity and a winnable candidate.
"He is currently the Johor Baru (JB) Umno division chief as well as its member of parliament.
"If he is fielded as a candidate again, Barisan Nasional (BN) can win in the constituency because JB is Shahrir, and Shahrir is JB.
"It is one of very few constituencies in large cities that is still held by the BN and Umno.
Shahrir's decision to defend his seat is good news and it will boost the BN's chances in the general election in the state," said Mohamad, who is deputy Umno permanent chairman and Johor state assembly speaker.
On Sunday, Shahrir indicated that he may yet contest in GE14 despite having previously making known his intention to refrain from seeking re-election as a member of parliament.
Shahrir had said that the Pakatan Harapan's move to make Johor their frontline state spurred him to face them in an effort to help defend the state, and he admitted he could not step aside at this time as he needed to help in whatever capacity.
Mohamad told the New Straits Times that Shahrir's experience as a six-term parliamentarian and his other traits made him a well known leader in and outside of his constituency.
"His integrity is known by people outside of Johor. He is a leader of calibre, and BN needs leaders such as this if it wants to win the general election."
Mohamad said despite Pakatan Harapan's wishes to wrest Johor, it will face a very difficult time as it did not have candidates who were as credible as Shahrir.
"The opposition pact will always boast about wanting to capture Johor and announcing that it is a frontline state. All political entities want to create a perception that they can win big, even when in reality, their chances of winning is slim," he said.
Johor Gerakan chairman Datuk Teo Kok Chee said that Shahrir's influence in the state could not be denied, and admitted that the opposition will have a tough time in matching Shahrir's and other Johor Umno leaders' excellent track record in serving the people.
"Umno's foundation in Johor is very strong as the party has brought continuous development and served the people well.
"It is not easy for Pakatan Harapan to wrest any seat from Umno in Johor despite of what they say," said Teo.
Meanwhile, Johor MIC chairman Datuk M. Asojan said that Johor would be lucky to continue having Shahrir serving as one its MPs.
He said the Johor Baru MP has leadership qualities that were acknowledged by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
"BN still needs leaders such as Shahrir to continue serving Johor and the country.
"We need him to stay because he can be play a role as a 'master' or mentor and bridge the gap between the older and younger leaders in the BN.
"His leadership qualities are something that event the prime minister acknowledges and that is why Shahrir was entrusted the role of Felda chairman.
"We can see how Felda has been able to engage with their settlers better since he took over its helm," said Asojan, who is Gambir assemblyman.