I had a conversation on Saturday with a friend, who is a Johor Umno person.
He seemed to be quite optimistic about BN's chances of defending the State, including the Chinese majority constituencies, notwithstanding the incoming onslaught by DAP.
"We had done the necessary works since three years ago. The DAP may field all their big guns here but we are ready for them," he said.
DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang had already been announced as candidate for Gelang Patah and more supposedly popular ones will follow and be named to contest in Chinese majority areas in Johor.
"They will try to win as many parliament seats as they can in the Chinese constituencies as they know there is no way they can take over the State. It is all about the DAP and Chinese votes now," said my friend.
My friend, who is a member of the Johor BN election command centre added that Pas and PKR are totally out of the equation in Johor.
"Pas' and PKR's only role in Johor now is to break up the Malay votes so that the DAP could focus on winning all the Chinese votes and grabbed the constituencies with Chinese majority.
"Surprisingly, Johor Pas and PKR are going along with it. Pas even gave up two of its Malay majority seats for DAP to place their Malay candidates to contest against BN's non-Umno candidates there."
My friend was however confident that works already done on the ground by Johor BN will stem the DAP tide.
"We had repeatedly gone to the grassroots and meet everyone, solved every outstanding problems that we could and doing all we can to convince everyone that they are better off with us than Pakatan," he said.
"Honestly, there is no real issue for Pakatan to exploit here in Johor. The economy is doing well, infrastructures in place, security improving etc.
"The way I see it, all they (Pakatan) could exploit is the racial sentiments of the Chinese who are unhappy with certain policies which seem to favor the Malays and bumiputra.
"We are trying to explain to them the rationale behind such policies and that they are not actually being marginalized by the government. It is not as if the BN government has never helped the Chinese community when they needed help. We tried to explain to them that in the overall scheme of things, BN policies are to benefit everyone as proven by how this country had progress over the years."
My friend also highlighted the fact that the Johor Umno leadership is currently being undermined by ultra-Malay factions within the party for allegedly favoring the Chinese community and business interests.
"It is not that we are favoring anyone above someone else. It is just that we are fair to everyone. If a Chinese works hard then there should be no reason why he or she should be denied being successful. The same goes with anyone of any race.
"We hope the Chinese community could understand that we are doing everything to be fair to everybody to the point that we are being accused of betraying the Malays by these people within our rank."
On the campaign to undermine the Johor Umno leadership, my friend said there is nothing to be done about it as this is a free country.
"The attacks via blogs and other means would be too costly for us to defend. We do not have the time nor resources to do so as our focus is now at defending the State from the real enemies which are the opposition."
Asked if he is worried that the attacks from within Umno will eventually erode BN's chances in Johor, my friend said he is quite confident they could hang on till after the election.
"I think we will survive at least until we are done with the election. After that, we will see how things are going to be.
"I was told that the current Johor Umno leadership is all ready to let go off their authority once they had successfully defended the State. It is up for the prime minister to decide after that. If he believe in all those allegations that the current Johor Umno leadership is selling the State to Chinese of all sorts, then he better sack us all. After that, well, good luck to Johor."
Asked who should be the next Johor MB in such event, my friend's answer was - "Since these attacks apparently come from a group originated in Batu Pahat, I think it would be appropriate to suggest someone from there to take over as Menteri Besar. Maybe Puad Zarkashi is suitable. He has been giving lots of statements in newspapers lately. He must be very clever and suitable to be the new MB."
Of course, my friend laughed after he said that.