EC: Merdeka Center poll not reflective of all Malaysians – By Anisah Shukry

The Malaysian Insider | KUALA LUMPUR, 27-May-2012 — The Election Commission (EC) today dismissed as trivial the findings of a survey showing that nearly half the electorate distrust the country’s polls process, saying the sample size used was “too small and random” to represent all Malaysians.

The survey, announced on Friday by independent pollster Merdeka Center, had found that 92 per cent of voters want the electoral roll cleaned up before elections are held, while 48 per cent agreed that the present electoral roll was inaccurate. As such, EC deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar (picture) maintained confidence that voters would not dispute the results of the coming 13th general election or be upset should Barisan Nasional (BN) stay in power.

But Wan Ahmad insisted that the pool of 1,019 registered voters interviewed was not representative of all Malaysians and would therefore have no bearing in the next general election.

“They only surveyed one thousand people; 48 per cent is only around 480 people. It does not reflect the majority of Malaysians,” Wan Ahmad told The Malaysian Insider.

“In any electoral process, there is bound to be some people who are unhappy. For instance, those candidates who lose in the elections would certainly be dissatisfied with the electoral system,” said.

He pointed out if anyone was dissatisfied with the results of the next general election, the federal Constitution allows them to file an official petition in court.

“For your information, 99 per cent of those cases have lost,” he added.

He further suggested that the “random” nature of the survey had caused researchers to obtain unreliable respondents from various backgrounds.

“To find a survey that truly reflects all Malaysians, we have to know the background of those who answered the survey.

“Who knows who the 1,000 respondents are? They probably just contacted them through the phone. Some will understand the questions, some won’t. And those who won’t, will just say anything.

“It would be better if Merdeka Center had surveyed voters who had just cast their ballots, rather than asking rempits from the side of the road,” he said.

But Wan Ahmad added that the EC welcomed the research findings as it confirmed Malaysians were truly wanted a clean and fair electoral role.

The EC has been under the spotlight of late, following relentless criticisms from the opposition and civil society groups that it had failed to show its commitment to implementing meaningful reforms to ensure the country’s election system is truly free and fair.

The EC stayed the target of criticisms even after the bipartisan Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) for electoral reforms had its 22-point recommendations approved by Parliament.

According to polls watchdog Bersih 2.0, the EC had dragged its feet with reforms during the panel’s six-month tenure and had refused to commit itself to implementing the 22 recommendations before the 13th general election is called.

But Wan Ahmad railed against the EC’s detractors, saying that simply dishing out criticisms and failing to engage with them was unhelpful.

“These NGOs prefer to call press conferences and insult the EC. This does not help. They should meet with the EC, present their research and cooperate with the EC to clean the electoral roll.

“The EC and NGO’s should not be enemies who only criticise each other. If they have discovered any irregularities, they must meet with the EC and explain it us, not use the data to criticise us,” he added.

He also maintained that the EC was doing all that it could to improve the electoral roll and implement the PSC’s recommendations.

“People don’t understand the constraints the EC faces — law constraints, Malaysians who do not update their addresses, as well as Malaysians who register in other constituencies.

But we are doing our jobs with honesty. The EC has dignity, and we will remain committed towards cleaning the electoral roll,” he added.

On April 28, Bersih 2.0 organised a mammoth rally to demand fair elections and the EC’s resignation, successfully drawing tens of thousands of supporters to streets of the capital to support its cause.

The group had organised its first such rally in 2007 and observers, judging from the massive turnout, had later credited the event for the massive losses suffered by BN during Election 2008.

Another rally by Bersih 2.0 organised last year on July 9 had drawn the same crowd of thousands, but like the recent April 28 event, riot police had intervened and dispersed protesters using tear gas and water cannons.