A survey shows that the Malays distrust not only DAP, but also PAS and PKR.
The Ilham Centre recently published the results of a survey on Malay voter sentiment in Penang that paints a picture of what exactly the Opposition must overcome if it intends to take over the federal administration.
The survey of 720 Malay voters in Penang, found, among other things,
that PKR is viewed as a multiracial party that cannot help the Malays, that PAS is not seen as a champion of Malays and Islam, and that the Penang government “feels” like a Chinese one.
Gerakan, another multi-ethnic but largely Chinese party, did not give off the same feel. Instead, when it was in power in Penang, the Malays felt like Umno was running the state. Now, we may not be here to discuss Gerakan, but the distinction made by the Malay voters surveyed is telling indeed. It shows that DAP’s perception problems are still a major obstacle to the Opposition’s quest for federal power.
Another major distinction the voters made was that the state government of Penang was a DAP government, not a Pakatan one.
Now, this is of particular importance as the survey also shows that the Malays generally have positive feelings about Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, with the voters describing him as humble and approachable, appreciative of the fact that he is always on the ground.
However, due to the influence of government controlled media, the Penang state government is still perceived as a “Chinese” government and thus a threat to the Malays in the state.
PKR and PAS have equally pressing worries in Penang, given the results of the survey.
Neither of the two parties has the credibility to proclaim themselves defenders of race and religion, according to the voters surveyed. This means that even with the PM and Umno being as unpopular as they are, the Malays still do not trust the Opposition with their future.
The problem of credibility among Malay voters is something the Opposition, whatever form it may take, has to address before the next general election.
However, it is significant that only 43% of the survey respondents were identified as Umno supporters. The rest were fence sitters. If we take this as a general model for the feelings of the Malays nationwide, then there’s a tremendous opportunity for the Opposition to widen its support base.
Whatever form the Opposition takes as the 14th general election approaches, it cannot take its eyes off the prize, and that means bridging the concerns of the Malays with concrete policies and credible leaders.
Failure to do so will be tantamount to handing Najib the election on a silver platter.
The question is, can the opposition parties get their heads together long enough to really address the opportunity at hand?