PETALING JAYA: Malay voters in Kedah have apparently swung back to Umno and the Barisan Nasional, according to a survey commissioned by The Star.
The opinion poll conducted earlier this month found that if the elections were held immediately, 57.1% of the Malays were likely to opt for Barisan compared to 38.8% for PAS and other opposition parties for state seats.
The findings of The Star General Election 2004 survey showed a significant swing of popular support by the Malays back to Umno compared to the 1999 general election, said the International Islamic University (IIU) Dean of Research Prof Syed Arabi Idid, who headed the poll project commissioned by The Star.
He said the survey asked 736 Kedahans which party they would vote for in state and parliamentary seats if election were held immediately.
The margin of error for the study is 3% to 4%.
The result is an interesting pointer for all parties as Kedah has been defined as the frontline state by both sides, with PAS hoping to wrest the state from Barisan Nasional after a good showing in 1999 when it denied the ruling coalition a two-thirds majority.
In the 1999 election, Barisan obtained only 56.51% of the national popular votes despite doing well in southern states like Johor where it won 100% of the seats.
In Malay-dominated constituencies, the popularity of Barisan was only 49%. In Kedah then, Barisan obtained 54.7% of the votes and the opposition 43.5%.
PAS and its partners have already announced that they were fielding their top guns in the state.
Four PAS stalwarts – secretary-general Nasharuddin Mat Isa, former National Mosque imam Taib Azamuddin Mohd Taib, former youth chief Mahfuz Omar and fiery orator Mohamed Sabu – will defend their seats.
Parti Keadilan Nasional announced vice-president Tian Chua and supreme council member Irene Fernandez would be fielded in non-Malay seats.
The survey was carried out in six state seats which were found to give the best representation of the state. They were Anak Bukit, Bakar Arang, Kubang Rotan, Derga and Pengkalan Kubur.
The survey also found that non-Malay support for the ruling coalition was even stronger at 72.9% while only 10.9% of those polled said they would vote for PAS and its loose coalition with Keadilan and Parti Rakyat Malaysia.
Other parties like the DAP obtained 16.3% support from the non-Malays – a figure higher than that received by the opposition coalition led by PAS – compared to only 2.7% by the Malays.
Combined popular support by the Malays and non-Malays for the Barisan was 57.2% compared to 30.5% for PAS and its partners and 5.4% for other parties.
For the parliamentary seats, Barisan obtained 55.9% support from the Malays while the PAS led-opposition coalition obtained 40.3%. The non-Malay approval rating for the ruling coalition was even higher for the federal seats at 76.2%.
The combined support for the Barisan in the survey was 56.1% compared to the opposition’s 31.7%.
One surprising finding of the opinion poll was that 49.4% of non-Malays and 36.1% Malays would only decide who they would vote for on election day.
A further 29.7% Malays and 16.5% non-Malays would make their decision on nomination day while almost an equal number of Malays (34.2%) and non-Malays (34.1%) would do so during the campaigning period.
Did you find this article insightful?