Speaker Ibrahim Suffian from the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research
“Will BN or PR Win…If The General Election Were To Be Held Today?” was the topic for the 3rd forum organized by the Sembang-Sembang Group on 15th November 2009 at the Kompleks Masyarakat Penyayang in Penang. The speculative yet provocative topic attracted close to 100 persons to the event. The speaker, Ibrahim Suffian, is the Director of the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research.
The Chairperson, T Rajamoorthy, opened the forum by explaining to the participants the setting up and the objectives of the Sembang-Sembang Group. The Sembang- Sembang Forum is organized by a group of anak-anak Pulau Pinang concerned with social and civil issues affecting our daily lives. The group is independent and non-partisan.
In the 8th March 2008 General Election, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) won 82 Parliamentary seats while the Barisan National (BN) lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament. Participants in the forum were keen to hear Ibrahim Suffian's analysis of two issues:
1) What is Najib’s approval rating since taking over as Prime Minister of Malaysia in April 08?
2) Will BN or PR win if the general election were to be held today?
Based on his analysis from the latest polls carried out in September 2009, Ibrahim Suffian thinks that Barisan Nasional would perform better this time if a general election were to be held today. According to him, BN will regain its two-thirds majority in the 222-seat lower house of Parliament while the Pakatan Rakyat may capture only about 50 to 60 seats.
BN’s approval ratings remained at the 35 ~ 40% level amongst the Chinese community for the last 20 months. However ratings from the Indian community has improved from a low of 35% to about 55% at the present moment.
In the case for Najib, his approval rating was lowest at 34% when he initiated the actions to unseat the Pakatan government from the Perak State Assembly. His approval rating then went up to as high as 62% when he announced the release of a number of ISA detainees including those from the Hindraf Movement. Najib’s rating stood at around 56% at the September 2009 survey conducted by the Merdeka Centre.
Ibrahim Suffian said that the survey may not be perfect but it is reflective of the current sentiment of the voters in the country.
Other interesting revelation from the survey include:
• Older Malay voters are more receptive to the idea of equal opportunities for all races;
• Chinese voters place crime, corruption, the economy and education as their priorities;
• The Indian community are more concerned with rights issue;
• The Malay community are concerned with morality and the uplifting of Islamic teachings. They are generally satisfied with the BN Government;
• East Malaysians identify themselves more as Malaysians while West Malaysians tend to identify themselves more with ethnic groupings.
The Q&A session saw active participation from the audience. Two very interesting questions were asked:
Q.: Does the Merdeka Centre face any pressure and do they “doctor” their poll results?
Ibrahim Suffian: Sometimes there are pressure from some clients who wanted us to complete the survey quickly. The Merdeka Centre will always report the results as they are. We do not "doctor" any polling result. We have to protect our integrity.
Q.: Why issues such as the alleged corruption involving the Port Klang Free-Trade Zone (PKFZ) and the Altantuya murder case do not seem to adversely impact the approval ratings of the BN and Najib?
Ibrahim Suffian: A large section of Malaysians do not have access to the alternative press via the Internet. The printed media remains their main source of news. For example only 11% of the voters polled follow the PKFZ scandal with interests.
Sembang Sembang Forum wishes to convey our heartfelt thanks to Ibrahim Suffian for delivering such an insightful and interesting talk.
For more details of the polls results, please go to the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research
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Reported by Low Swee Heong 16th November 2009