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Survey: Malay voters trust BN, PAS more than Pakatan

Ibrahim Suffian from Merdeka Center speaks during the forum at Gerakbudaya in Kuala Lumpur February 8, 2018. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 9 — Malay voters trust the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) party and the Islamist party PAS over opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH), according to a survey by independent pollster Merdeka Center.

Ibrahim Suffian, pollster Merdeka Center’s programmes director, said Malay and non-Malay voters were asked who they trusted more to manage the country’s economy; reduce the problem of corruption; protect the political interests of Malay Muslims and Bumiputera; and treat all races fairly.

“Malay respondents trust PAS and Umno more compared to Pakatan Harapan, that is the main takeaway point.

“Because I think there’s a lot of rhetoric going on in politics today about how Pakatan Harapan is going to tap into an emerging Malay tsunami,” he said in a forum yesterday titled “GE14: The polls, the money, the stakes”.

“Non-Malay voters tend to place higher trust on Opposition than it is for the ruling party or the Islamic party,” he said of the survey results for the four areas.

The same survey, which was conducted a year ago also showed that Malay voters were more concerned about Malay rights covering issues of Islam’s position, the role of Malays in deciding the country’s economic and political direction and how well the country’s economic wealth is distributed back to them.

“It shows Malay voters are twice more likely to place more emphasis on communal ethnic interests when making choices compared to Malaysians of other communities; whereas other communities place more emphasis on economic performance and service delivery,” he said of the survey that will be repeated after Chinese New Year celebrations this year.

Ibrahim went on to say that the upcoming elections will be affected by the way electoral boundaries are drawn, noting that there is existing “severe malapportionment” and the embedding of ethnic voting patterns in the voter composition in voting districts.

He also said that it hinges on the Malay voters’ confidence levels in the respective political parties, saying: “If the Opposition is not able to gain sufficient levels of Malay support, then they won’t go through. And this election may end up with a very favourable result for Barisan Nasional.”

He believed that most voters have already made up their minds on who to support for the 14th general elections (GE14) that must be held by this August, estimating that fence-sitters are at only about five to eight per cent of the electorate.

“We think the pool of undecided voters is very much smaller than either the two Opposition (PH and Gagasan Sejahtera) or Barisan Nasional coalition needs to gain to cross the line,” he said, noting that this was due to the expected three-corner fights.

The Barisan Nasional coalition’s mainstay party Umno is Malay-based, while the Gagasan Sejahtera coalition includes PAS which draws its support from Malay Muslims. The PH coalition includes the newly-formed Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) which also focuses on Bumiputera, although non-Bumiputera are allowed to join as associate members.

The forum hosted yesterday by the Australian National University (ANU) Malaysia Institute and Gerakbudaya also had three others as its speakers, namely Universiti Malaya’s Professor Edmund Terence Gomez, Malaysia Muda activist Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, and ANU historian Dr Amrita Malhi.