KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 23 — A Merdeka Center mid-term survey of voters showed that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) was likely to retain Selangor in an election, despite a marginal decline in Malay support.
According to the survey report obtained by The Malaysian Insider, 57 per cent of the 1,214 respondents polled believed that Selangor PR was heading in the right direction while 28 per cent thought otherwise.
There was a slight dip in Malay confidence, however, from 63 per cent agreeing in June 2009 that the state was on the right track to only 55 per cent in August this year.
Support from the Chinese community was maintained at 53 per cent in the same period despite a small decline to 47 per cent in January this year.
The PR government scored the highest with the Indian community, with a steady increase in support from 63 per cent to 72 per cent across the same period.
Sixty-seven per cent of respondents also said they were satisfied with the state government’s performance with 55 per cent claiming they were either very confident or quite confident in Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim’s leadership while 26 per cent said they were less confident or not confident at all.
Of the three races, however, Khalid scored the lowest among the Malay community with 38 per cent saying they were not confident in his leadership, compared to the 14 per cent and 17 per cent of the Chinese and Indian communities respectively which said the same.
The survey, commissioned by the Selangor government, polled constituents aged 21 and above through telephone interviews.
It was, however, conducted between July 27 and August 23 this year and did not incorporate any changes in voter perception after PKR’s fractious party polls last month.
PKR’s first-ever direct elections, held between September 17 and November 21, was mired in controversy following reports of relentless infighting, voting irregularities and alleged malpractices in the polling process.
A DAP leader admitted to The Malaysian Insider yesterday that if the survey had been conducted after PKR’s elections, the results would have likely reflect a less enthusiastic response for the PR government.
“It would have affected us significantly. But we cannot tell the extent of the effect, so for now, we are hoping that PR can recapture whatever support we lost because of the party elections,” he said.
The leader added that other national issues like the latest price hikes for fuel and sugar and the recent suspensions of PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and three other PR MPs from Parliament could help dissuade voters from leaving the opposition fold.
“These issues could help cancel out what we have lost. But like I said, it is hard to gauge how much we have lost or gained after the survey was done,” the source said.
The survey also showed that the Najib administration had failed to impress Selangor voters despite its attempts to combat corruption and promises to be more inclusive.
It revealed that 49 per cent still believed that corruption in the federal government was on the rise while 15 per cent claimed that nothing had changed and 22 per cent said it had declined. A total of 14 per cent said they did not know the answer.
The Malays differed considerably in their perception of corruption in comparison with the Chinese and Indian communities.
Of the total polled, only 39 per cent of the Malays claimed that corruption had increased, while 60 per cent and 54 per cent of the Chinese and Indian communities said this was true.
Correspondingly, 28 per cent of Malays believed that corruption had declined in the federal administration while only 16 per cent and 13 per cent of the Chinese and Indians agreed.
In its summary, Merdeka Center claimed that the non-Malays were more “realistic” in their views, adding that the community was resigned to the belief that corruption was the government’s “lifeblood”.
“They also believe that the government is not serious in fighting corruption,” it said.
Another significant finding in the survey was that the federal government had suffered a severe backlash in Selangor for its first round subsidy cuts for petrol, diesel and sugar in July this year.
Fifty-five per cent of respondents saw red over the government’s decision to slash subsidies while 22 per cent said that they were not so agreeable.
Only 17 per cent said they were slightly agreeable while four per cent claimed to be in full support of the cuts.
A total of 72 per cent said they were dissatisfied with the government’s reason for cutting subsidies, while 23 per cent were satisfied.
In explaining the cuts, Putrajaya had reasoned that the move was to reduce government expenditure, pledging that the funds would be used to boost development and turn Malaysia into a high-income nation.
A majority of the Selangor constituents also claimed that the country’s national leaders were not aware of the people’s problems, with 37 per cent saying that the ruling administration “does not really understand” them and 20 per cent claiming that they “do not understand them at all”.
Thirty per cent of respondents said the government understood them “a little” while six per cent said they were completely understood.
In comparison, the Selangor PR government scored better than Barisan Nasional among respondents, with 53 per cent agreeing that they were either extremely confident or quite confident in how the state government had managed its economy.
About 36 per cent said they were either less confident or extremely not confident in the PR government.
A majority of respondents also expressed confidence in PR’s management of the Selangor economy in the year ahead, with 48 per cent saying they were confident while 31 per cent disagreed.
A total of 54 per cent of the respondents claimed that BN had not treated the PR government fairly while 26 per cent said that they had been either very unfair or less than fair. Eighteen per cent said they did not know.
From the results, the centre recommended as “immediate action” for the Selangor PR government to tackle its declining Malay support, pointing out that the community had been greatly affected by negative news reports.