It seems to me that BN is employing the same strategy for the coming Johor election as the one it used in the campaign for the Tanjong Piai by-election two years ago.
The strategy was to tell all communities in Johor that they will be represented in the Johor government if the coalition wins the election.
It was the same message conveyed in the Malay-majority Tanjong Piai when BN fielded MCA's Wee Jack Seng despite the Chinese-based party's poor performance in the last few elections before that.
The result was a landslide victory for BN despite Pakatan fielding a Malay candidate in the hope of appealing to the Malay racial sentiment in the parliamentary constituency.
The same appeared to be happening when Umno announced today that it would contest only 37 of the 56 seats to be contested in the state election.
MCA was given 15 and MIC got four.
Umno could actually contest up to 42 seats but chose not to do so, a sign that it wanted all of its allies to have the best chance to win some seats so that the communities they represent would be represented in the state government in the event the coalition wins the election.
A look at the seats given to MCA convinced me that the Johor Umno leadership had done its best to convince its grassroots supporters to help support their Chinese friends in those constituency.
Seats to be contested by MCA are Jementah, Bekok, Tangkak, Bentayan, Yong Peng, Penggaram, Mengkibol, Paloh, Puteri Wangsa, Johor Jaya, Stulang, Perling, Skudai, Senai, and Pekan Nanas.
Most are difficult seats because the majority of voters in the constituencies are Chinese, who over the past two general elections had given all out support to DAP.
DAP had basically painted MCA as Chinese traitors who are in cahoot with corrupt Malays, aka Umno.
That strategy worked for them. Even MCA members voted for DAP in droves in the past two general elections.
Yup, the supposedly inclusive DAP won most of their seats by appealing to Chinese sentiments and branding people as traitors to their community.
I believe that the BN leadership is of the view that political status quo among the Chinese is still more or less the same till today.
That's why they are giving MCA some winnable seats to contest such as Pekan Nenas and Puteri Wangsa.
I know that the Umno grassroots in those constituencies had wanted to contest the seats as the demographic there has changed with Pekan Nenas now a Malay-majority and Puteri Wangsa a more racially equal marginal constituency.
I think Johor Umno chief Hasni had convinced them to not only give way to MCA, but also help the Chinese candidates to win.
I have seen MCA people at work in the last few by-elections and was impressed with their hard work and dedication, especially in Tanjong Piai where their man was the candidate.
With the help of their Umno friends, I have a feeling they may win at least those two seats.
If they win some of the other seats, that would be a pleasant surprise as it would send a signal that the Chinese community in Johor are no longer too influenced by DAP's racialist tactics.
As for MIC's four seats; Kemelah, Kahang, Tenggaroh, and Bukit Batu, I tend to believe that it may win all of them except for the last one.
MIC contested four seats too in 2018 and won two, so that was not really an unreasonable prediction, I think.
As to why I suspect MIC will find it hard to win in Bukit Batu, it's because of the high number of Chinese voters there.
Overall, I believe this state election will more or less be a repeat of the 2013 general election - BN will do well in all constituencies except those with overwhelming number of Chinese voters.
But, who knows, the Chinese may surprise me and prove my prediction wrong by proving that they too want a return of a stable BN administration in the state which will allow Johor's economy to flourish once again.
Maybe they are also tired of all the empty talks of DAP and its gang.