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Poll: Candidate trumps party

From left: Abdul Wahid Endut (PAS), Wan Ahmad Farid (BN’s candidate from Umno) and Azharudin Mamat @ Adam (independent)

PETALING JAYA, 13 Jan 2009: The quality of the candidate standing in the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary by-election is more important than current issues and party capability, a new poll has revealed.

Seventy-seven percent of a 527-person sample polled by the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research considered the quality of the candidate as “very important”, while factors such as the “trustworthiness of party leaders” and “current issues” rated lower. This tendency remained even as the responses were tallied by ethnicity.

However, Chinese Malaysian respondents appeared to feel strongly about the issue of fair treatment, regardless of race or bumiputera status. Ninety-four percent of 119 ethnically Chinese Malaysians queried chose “supremacy of the people” as a more appropriate ideal for Malaysian politics, as opposed to “Malay dominance”.

More than half (53%) of the Chinese Malaysians polled thought that the Terengganu state government should concentrate on treating non-Malay Malaysians equally.

The Kuala Terengganu by-election is a three-way fight between the Barisan Nasional (BN)’s Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh from Umno, PAS’s Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut, and independent Azharudin Mamat @ Adam. The Chinese Malaysian community, which comprises 10.95% of voters, is widely believed to be the swing vote in the by-election.

According to the Merdeka Centre, the survey was conducted from 7 to 10 Jan, and was designed to “uncover issues affecting the voters …as well as to uncover how they are responding to statements and campaign issues brought forth by the contesting parties.”

The sample comprised voters registered in Kuala Terengganu, and were interviewed by telephone.

Threats to Malay political power

Perceived external threats to Malay political power did not have traction with Malay Malaysian respondents to the survey.

“Only 17% agreed that ‘Malay political power was weakened by demands made by non-Malay communities after the 8 March 2008 general election’, while 74% felt that ‘Malay political power was weakened by corrupt and self-serving leaders’,” concluded a press statement released today by the Merdeka Centre alongside the survey results.

“The issue of hudud captured the notice of only one-half of the Chinese Malaysian voters in Kuala Terengganu,” the press statement added.

As to who would win come polling day on 17 Jan, the survey results had no definite answers. However, based on observations of the data, it suggested that Malay Malaysian voters, at the time the survey was conducted, were evenly split between the BN and PAS, with 8% undecided.

Chinese Malaysian voters were also difficult to read, but responses indicated that they leaned slightly towards the opposition.

See also:

KT’s decorative touch
Surviving perception
Wahid’s likeability factor
Getting the message across in KT
Politicising Islam in KT
KT’s odd man out
Contrasting campaign styles in KT

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