Majority of Perak voters want fresh elections, poll shows

Friday, February 5, 2010
By The Malaysian Insider
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 5 — Nearly three in four voters, or 74 per cent, feel that fresh state elections remain the best way to resolve the political crisis in Perak, a new poll conducted on the eve of the first anniversary of Barisan Nasional’s controversial takeover of the government shows.
The independent Merdeka Center survey of 805 registered voters also shows that Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir and Pakatan Rakyat’s Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin, the man he replaced, are neck-and-neck in their respective approval ratings.
Zambry’s state-wide approval rating is 43 per cent and is drawn largely from the Malay, and one-half of the ethnic Indian electorate.
Nizar has an approval rating of 46 per cent which is drawn largely from a majority of Chinese, one-half of ethnic Indians and a little over one-third of the Malay electorate.
The Merdeka Center, which has been conducting regular polls since Election 2008, had recently polled the 805 voters who were drawn from large majorities of each ethnic group, and almost equally divided between rural and urban areas.
They were asked their views on the direction of the state, its current economic conditions, their views on government leaders, and the changes that they have seen since the Barisan Nasional takeover in February 2009.

The poll shows that the sentiment favouring fresh polls is detected in all ethnic groups.
“More importantly, 65 per cent of the respondents, comprising large majorities from each ethnic group feel that the Perak political issue remains relevant today, one year since the events took place,” Merdeka Center said in a summary of the poll results obtained by The Malaysian Insider.
When asked about the impact of BN’s takeover on a number of factors ranging from the state economy to the performance of the state bureaucracy, less than 40 per cent of the respondents felt that it has had a positive impact.
Notably, only 45 per cent of Malay voters agreed that the takeover had improved the political position of the community in the state as opposed to 15 per cent who felt that things remained unchanged, and 28 per cent who felt that things had worsened.
Asked to choose between giving the economy a priority or ensuring that the government was democratically elected, 60 per cent of the respondents — including 58 per cent of Malays — felt that democratic elections were more important.
The Merdeka Center poll appears to confirm anecdotal evidence given by political leaders in the state that Zambry and BN has regained some support from among Malays and Indians in the state but the large Chinese community are still largely backing PR and Nizar.
Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir had told The Malaysian Insider earlier this week that he was confident Umno could take 34 seats in the next elections.
The Pangkor assemblyman will know on Feb 9 if he remains Mentri Besar when the Federal Court decides the legality of his appointment after his BN toppled the PR government a year ago.
PR Mentri Besar Nizar’s government collapsed when two PKR state assemblymen joined a DAP lawmaker to turn independent to support the BN to control 31 seats in the 59-seat state assembly.
While Zambry appears to still have his work cut out in winning over Perak voters, he can, however, take heart in the poll results which showed that the number of people saying that the state was moving in the right direction has marginally increased from April 2009, from 31 per cent to 38 per cent.
However, a total of 44 per cent of voters surveyed still felt the state was moving in the wrong direction.
There was a marked difference in response along ethnic lines when voters were asked if they thought the state was moving in the right direction.
A total of 57 per cent of Malay respondents and 48 per cent of Indians but only 12 per cent of Chinese respondents believed that the state was headed in the right direction.
The Merdeka Center also noted that voter sentiments relating to the economy remains mixed and ethnically polarised.
Overall, only 42 per cent of Perak voters surveyed said that present economic conditions were favorable.
With respect to the future, voters are again split with 42 per cent optimistic about the economy while 43 per cent were not.
The survey found that while 60 per cent of Malay respondents were confident with the economic management of the state, only 19 per cent of ethnic Chinese respondents said that they were confident.

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