PETALING JAYA: Research by a leading international financial newspaper revealed that the Barisan Nasional (BN) is likely to return to power in the 14th General Election (GE).
However, the research by Financial Times Confidential Research (FTCR) stated that victory may not be straightforward, as it sensed a palpable Malay dissatisfaction with the government, largely due to the rising cost of living.
The FTCR survey in four Malay states in the northern belt of the peninsula revealed that slightly more than half of the 252 respondents had a negative view of current economic conditions, while less than a quarter said that they were happy.
About half of the respondents stated that they were unhappy with the current state of politics compared with slightly less than a quarter that said otherwise.
FTCR is an arm of the Financial Times and does quarterly surveys on the state of politics and other matters of countries to provide investors with predictive analysis.
The research stated that one of the reasons why it felt that the BN would return to power is the recent redelineation of electoral boundaries that redistributed the Malay voters to marginal seats to increase the chances of the BN, while packing other ethnic voters to Opposition seats.
Generally, the move is expected to result in the Opposition garnering more popular votes but may not have an impact on winning more seats. In the 2013 GE, the BN won the majority of the Parliamentary seats despite gaining only 47% of the popular support.
However, FTCR pointed out that the strategy to pack the Malay voters to marginal seats with the view of winning would only work if the level of support for the BN remains as it was in 2013.
It stated that a large Malay swing towards Pakatan Harapan would complicate the BN’s efforts to increase its majority.
FTCR stated that it was hard to judge the scale of the coming swing, which Opposition figures are calling a “Malay tsunami”.
It stated that its own study of 1,000 respondents living in cities across Malaysia as at the end of the first quarter indicated that the majority were in favour of a change in the political environment.
Among the issues raised during the campaign are matters such as the goods and services tax (GST) that has been attributed to one of the reasons for the rising cost of living. The Opposition has stated that it would do away with the GST within the first 100 days of its regime.
FTCR warned that without the GST, it expects Malaysia’s federal government fiscal deficit to be 2.9% to 3% of the gross domestic product this year.
Under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Malaysia has been reducing its deficit, which is projected to be 2.8% this year compared to 3% last year.By 2023, the government is looking at a balanced budget, meaning it will be able to contain its development and operating expenditure within its income received from taxes and other means.