Monday, November 16, 2009

Opinion polls reveal changing perception about BN and PR

Saya berharap kemerosotan sokongan ini segera dapat diatasi oleh pihak pimpinan Pakatan Rakyat.Taka tau la kalau masih ada lagi pimpinan Pakatan Rakyat yang dengan angkuhnya menganggap data data yang diberi adalah data tepi jalan.Tak ada kelas punya data.Saperti mana seorang pimpinan PAS dengan angkuhnya menolak fakta fakta yang diberi oleh Dr Aziz Bari.

Saya sendiri dapat merasakan sokongan golongan atas pagar agak sedikit condong kepada BN.Isu kepala lembu Shah Alam dan isu kematian misteri Teoh Beng Hock ternyata gagal mempengaruhi masyarakat Hindu dan Cina untuk memberi sokongan lebih kuat pada Pakatan Rakyat.PRK Bagan Pinang telah membuktikan bahawa telahan ramai orang termasuk saya jauh meleset.Gula gula yang diberi oleh BN masih mempunyai sengatnya.Antara geran tanah dan sokongan pada isu Kepala lembu dan Kematian misteri Teoh Beng Hock manakah lebih bernilai pada pengundi? Jawapannya jelas memihak pada BN.

Pakatan Rakyat perlu memperkemaskan peringkat "grassroot" terlebih dahulu,So back to the basic it seem...

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....At the Sembang-Sembang Forum yesterday, Encik Ibrahim Suffian, Head of Programs and a Director of the Merdeka Centre of Opinion Research, revealed that the approval rating for Barisan Nasional has improved by 5% while that for Pakatan Rakyat has slipped by 17%. More importantly, he believed that based on current trends, it is likely that BN will have a bigger win in the next elections ceteris paribus. The middle ground of 10% is relatively small and may not affect the swing in an impactful manner. The warning is out and the writing is on the wall - PR had better shape up or prepare to ship out for BN!!!

According to the results of the public opinion polls, there are no major issues affecting public discourse at the moment. Generally, citizens are relieved that the impact from the economic meltdown has not been that bad. While many believe that the worst is over, they are still very concerned about the economic performance of the country. However, could it be that the respondents are not aware of the economic indicators/current issues that should be used to assess the actual scenario?

Encik Ibrahim highlighted interesting observations from the research that has been conducted by the centre.

* Public approval for the Prime Minister in March 2009 was 46%

* This figure shifted to 43% after he was declared UMNO President

* During the Perak debacle, his rating slipped to 34%

* After his announcement of various liberalisation policies, the rating improved to about 65% because the rakyat seemed to be happier that he announced KPI index and his new policies seemed to address key concerns of the country.

* The main concern of most of the polls is economic issues and not political problems.

* Confidence in Pakatan Rakyat seemed to be waning in the September polls. Whilst most states that were being governed by PR seemed steady, confidence in PR at federal level is still low due to infighting, controversial statements by PR leaders and other issues.

* Results seem to show that leaders must fulfil promises made to the rakyat or suffer their wrath in the next polls.

Where voter attributes are concerned, the results of opinion polls seem to indicate that 48% of Malay respondents feel that their political position is being threatened whilst 38%, mainly the older respondents, are open to equal rights. Thus one can safely conclude that the older they are, the more open they can be to the Opposition and that it is surprisingly the younger populace who are more resistant to the Opposition front!!! Food for thought for PR leaders - lots of work to be done here.

With regards to addressing key issues of the next general election, Encik Ibrahim suggested the following steps:

* improving treatment and handling of grievances of minority groups

* implementing structural reforms of the civil service to improve delivery of promises

* reducing corruption and other forms of leakages

* improving leadership selection process in UMNO

He emphasized that whilst promises do matter, at the end of the day, it is the delivery of these promises that matter most to the rakyat as they do not forget that easily.

During the forum, participants were reminded that March 2008 was a watershed event that showed that the electorate are now more capable to voice out their discontent and better able to assess for themselves the options available.

Encik Ibrahim emphasized that technology is an important consideration when reaching out to the young population as it is a powerful agent of mobilization. This younger population is one that grew up on a culture of consumerism and have little memory of the political history of the country, particularly the May 13 incident. As such, he anticipated that this is the group that will make the difference in the next general elections, especially since only 55% of the young population have registered as voters.

The party that can mobilise the remaining 45% will have the power of the ballot box! I am sure that the political parties concerned are well aware of the demographic patterns of the electorate but I am uncertain if the necessary steps are being taken to maximise their mileage with this pivotal group.

Interestingly, Encik Ibrahim discussed a few events which triggered the March 2008 tsunami.

1. On the Wednesday before the elections, PKR leader Anwar attended a meeting in Singapore after which he released a press release that unleashed a media attack on him, including one from Dr. Chandra Muzaffar.

Encik Ibrahim revealed that following this, there was an increase in the number of people who did not want to reveal their voting preferences.

2. The second influencing factor was the announcement by the Elections Commission that indelible ink would not be used. With this, opinion polls revealed a 4-5% increase in Malay voters rooting for the Opposition.

If the Elections had been held a week later, Encik Ibrahim believed that ground support for the Opposition would have been broader but if it had been held 2-3 weeks later, the reverse would have happened.

Another interesting finding that was highlighted by Encik Ibrahim was that support from Indian voters for BN is increasing. There is a general understanding that some effort is being made to win support from the Indian community with the new political entities emerging that seem to provide an alternative voice to what they have within BN today - MIC.

Research findings of polls conducted by the Centre can be accessed at THIS LINK.

Another interesting observation that Encik Ibrahim shared with us was that Malay respondents from West Malaysia regarded themselves as Muslims whereas Muslims in East Malaysia regarded themselves as Malaysians!!! We have a long way to go in nation building as race/religion is still a strong factor in the formation of perceptions of national identity.

Encik Ibrahim handled the Q & A Session beautifully. A range of questions were posed to him including queries about the technical aspects of the research instrument used for the polls, the validity/representativeness of the result, and other questions pertaining to the impact of the PKFZ/Altantuya issues on the public opinion of BN. At the same time, he acknowledged that it was difficult to assess the public opinion of East Malaysians due to technical factors such as number of people in the states who had telephones and also the lack of exposure to MSM and internet - two important influences on the perception and opinions of the rakyat. He acknowledged that leaders from both sides of the political divide did consult the centre which is funded by various organizations.

Encik Ibrahim also reiterated that Merdeka Centre is an organization that emphasizes independent data and information gathering of unbiased information, validation of internal sources of information without external influences. You can read more about the organization at THIS LINK.

This forum which was organized by Sembang-Sembang Forum - a group of anak-anak Pulau Pinang concerned with social and civil issues affecting our daily lives who hope to provide a public forum to discuss these issues openly. The forum which was held at Kompleks Pusat Penyayang, Jalan Utama from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. yesterday was attended by about 80 to 100 persons, mainly those above 40 years old. A small number of young people were present. Perhaps others were attending the SABM forum which was held concurrently at Hu Yew Seah Hall yesterday afternoon. Personally, I hope that more people will attend these forums in future.

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