Sabah’s illegal immigrant issue electoral fodder for Pakatan, says Dr M – By Mohd Farhan Darwis

The Malaysian Insider | KUALA LUMPUR, 09-Oct-2012 — The Pakatan Rakyat (PR) opposition pact will likely go to town with the latest findings published by independent research institute Merdeka Center on the plethora of issues surrounding Sabah, the country’s easternmost and poorest state in the run-up to polls, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.

The former prime minister and veteran Umno politician said that with the 13th general elections just around the corner, the opposition will not hesitate to use any issue to spur its chances at the ballot box.

“The issues raised are opposition issues.

“Elections are close… so they will turn everything into an issue,” he told reporters, weighing in on Merdeka Center’s latest findings on Sabah issues made public last week.

In its survey, Merdeka Center noted that 57 per cent were dissatisfied with Sabah’s economic performance and only 56 per cent of Sabah voters were satisfied with the state government, a six percentage point drop from 62 per cent in November 2009.

The country’s easternmost state has been described as Barisan Nasional’s (BN) “fixed deposit” along with neighbouring Sarawak. Both Borneo states are a crucial frontline, which both BN and PR will have to win in order to take Putrajaya in the next general election.

In Election 2008, BN lost the popular vote in Peninsula Malaysia and analysts say the sentiment has remained largely the same in the months leading up to the elections.

In the first part of its survey released last week, the Merdeka Center also found that only 54 per cent of voters polled last September felt the state was heading in the right direction compared to 66 per cent in November 2009.

The top five reasons for the drop include the issue of illegal immigrants, dissatisfaction with political leadership, the high cost of living, and “the perception” that Sabah was still “lagging” behind in terms of economic development and infrastructure.

The illegal immigrant issue was rated by 53 per cent of the voters polled as the most important issue in Sabah.

The state opposition has alleged that the BN government in Sabah gave out citizenships to foreigners in exchange for votes to help them stay in power.