Merdeka Centre: 2 in 3 Chinese Malaysian voters likely to vote opposition

The coming general elections is just around the corner, if you asked me. I believed AAB has initially thought of doing it in May. He may still do it in May if he can clear the mess created by by the massive floods in the south. His plan was somewhat affected by the massive floods.

His next date would be some time in November this year ( Nov 25?). I believe he will not allowed Anwar Ibrahim to take part in the coming GE. He would have no choice but to hold the next GE latest by March 2008, say March 15. Why Nov 25 or March 15? Ask the fengshui master who gave the dates to AAB. 

Poll: Chinese more likely to vote opposition

Beh Lih Yi-Malaysiakini
Feb 13, 07 12:58pm
Two in three Chinese Malaysian voters are likely to vote for opposition parties in the next general election, according to a recent poll conducted by independent opinion research firm Merdeka Centre. Sixty percent of Chinese respondents who took part in the poll – conducted between October and December last year – said the time has come for them to vote for the opposition so that their concerns are voiced. However, 22 percent of the group disagreed.

Of the Malay and Indian respondents, 32 and 33 percent respectively are likely to vote for the opposition, indicating the Barisan Nasional (BN) will continue to enjoy support from these groups. (see chart)

Chinese respondents also appear to have a strong desire for change as they were the least supportive of the government and most dissatisfied with its ability to satisfy public aspirations.

The poll – which involved 1,025 respondents aged 16 and above – attempted to examine the voting trend in the next general election, due by April 2009. Political pundits predict, though, that an election will be called by early next year.

According to Merdeka Centre, the margin of error for the overall survey is about 3.1 percent.

Last Friday, malaysiakini reported that most of the Chinese respondents registered discontent over the country’s ‘directionless economy’, a series of price hikes last year and inflation. 

Asked to comment on the findings, Merdeka Centre director Ibrahim Suffian said: “We won’t call it a swing (of Chinese votes) yet because we need a few more polls to confirm this. But at this point in time, it seems to be a strong likelihood for the Chinese to register their protest in the next election.”

He was of the view, however, that Chinese-based political parties in the BN are capable of countering the negative sentiments before the general election.

“Many measures can be taken to mitigate this situation, such as in the education sector. Lower world oil prices may even prompt the government to contemplate reducing oil prices, a move which will have broad effect on the electorate,” he said.

Ibrahim said certain projects that have been announced by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi are expected to bring about results, and will be used to show that he has kept his promises.

Good commodity prices

Explaining the Malay preference to keep the status quo, Ibrahim said the community has been “shielded and protected” by the government in terms of income.

“The majority of the Malay voters (in rural areas) are earning a decent income, especially with rising commodity prices. The Batu Talam by-election is significant in showing that rural voters are not unhappy with the economy,” he said.

He also said alternatives and issues of emotional appeal are lacking, to draw Malay support towards the opposition.

The community’s support for the BN was revealed in a question where 64 percent of respondents from this group said the government has earned their votes; 28 percent disagreed and only four percent answered ‘maybe’.

Responses from Chinese and Indian respondents to the same question were divided. 

On the likelihood that one-third of Indian respondents would vote for the opposition, Ibrahim said this was due to lack of alternative leadership.

Many are concerned with the community’s fate, which emerged as the top factor in their decision on how to cast their votes.

Need for stronger opposition

Going by employment categories, those in the Malay predominated government sector have the least tendency to vote for the opposition (33 percent), followed by homemakers (38 percent), retirees and self-employed (39 percent each).

Businessmen (63 percent) and those in the private sector (46 percent) have the highest likelihood of voting for the opposition.

Overall, 63 percent of respondents agreed on the need for a stronger opposition (see chart) but this may not necessarily translate into votes.

Ibrahim cautioned that Malay-based opposition parties, such as PAS and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), will face an uphill struggle to present themselves as credible opposition parties.

“Unless they have local issues to play up, the national picture is not in their favour at present,” he argued, suggesting that a way out would be for the parties to strengthen their communications with the grassroots.

“PAS has to show the difference it has made or the success it has achieved since the 2004 general election and Pengkalan Pasir by-election (in December 2005). PKR, being a relatively new party, has to reveal its plan,” he said.

Citing the obvious split (see chart) between Malays and non-Malays on the removal of bumiputera economic privileges for example, Ibrahim said PKR – which has been promoting a New Economic Agenda – could be more aggressive in explaining the details of its economic plan.

Abdullah’s popularity

Despite the threat of a lower majority for the BN, Ibrahim said the findings show that the prime minister himself enjoys relatively high popularity. Still, questions of this nature often involve a higher margin of error.

“Based on our experience, people are more forthcoming on issues and concerns but when it comes to their voting intention or perception of certain political personalities, they tend to be more guarded and cautious,” he said.

Whether or not Abdullah can sustain his popularity going into the general election will be influenced by several factors including delivery of his promises, governance procedures and results in the fight against corruption.

Ibrahim said a sizeable number of non-Malays feel they are not benefitting from economic policies despite a generally positive view of Abdullah’s offerings on this front.

The findings further show that 56 percent attribute Abdullah’s problems to a legacy inherited from his predecessor Dr Mahathir Mohamad, as opposed to 36 percent who disagreed.

The duo have been embroiled in a bitter dispute since last year, after Mahathir accused his successor of mismanagement. Abdullah took over from Mahathir in 2003.

Related report:
Poll: Economic situation brews discontent


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