JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A lot of horse-trading is taking place in Johor to woo Pakatan Harapan (PH) assemblymen to switch camps, especially an ethnic Chinese lawmaker, to ensure that the community is represented in the new executive council (exco), as the state Cabinet is called.
The new coalition has 28 assemblymen, out of the 56 state lawmakers.
Pakatan Harapan (PH) also has 28 assemblymen.
The Johor ruler last week swore in an Umno politician as the new menteri besar, though PH insisted there is a deadlock, as a minimum of 29 assemblymen is needed to win control of the state.
The appointment shifted the balance from PH in favour of the Perikatan Nasional (PN), or National Alliance, faction led at the federal level by new Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
PN comprises Tan Sri Muhyiddin's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, Umno, Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) and Gabungan Parti Sarawak.
PH now consists of three parties after Bersatu left the coalition. The three members are Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah).
In Johor, talk is rife that at least three to five PH assemblymen are being targeted for crossover.
Among them are PKR lawmakers Chong Fat Full from Pemanis ward and Jimmy Puah Wee Tse (Bukit Batu), Mohd Khuzzan Abu Bakar (Semerah), Md Ysahruddin Kusni (Bukit Naning) and Gopalakrishnan Subramaniam (Tiram).
The two Amanah assemblymen being targeted by PN are Muhammad Taqiuddin Che'man (Pulai Sebatang) and Dzulkefly Ahmad (Amanah).
Mr Puah, when contacted, said he had made his stand clear on his Facebook page - he was still with PH and they would not give up.
"I believe that if the people still continue to apply pressure, this bogus government will collapse, " he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Chong said his heart is currently with PH, but if there is a royal decree for the Chinese community to be represented in the state government, then things might change.
Asked about his earlier stand to support the new PN coalition during his meeting with Johor's ruler, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, before switching back to PH the next day, he said he was initially told that Bersatu's Datuk Sahruddin Jamal would remain the menteri besar.
"I gave my support to him, as he (Mr Sahruddin) called me personally asking for support. So I signed my statutory declaration in support of him.
"However, I decided to support Pakatan when I found out that an Umno candidate will be the menteri besar," he said.
Meanwhile, there is talk that the new exco will be appointed by Friday (March 6).
Johor's new Menteri Besar Hasni Mohammad has presented his picks to Sultan Ibrahim.
It is learnt that Umno is expected to take four exco positions, Bersatu three, and one each from the Malaysian Indian Congress and PAS, while a seat will be kept for a "Chinese exco" member.