Shafie Apdal as CM… surveys shows it’s a tough ask

Parti Warisan Sabah leader Shafie Apdal is popular among young voters but many non-Muslim Bumiputeras and Chinese are still undecided on the former Umno vice-president. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, May 19, 2017. | 19-May-2017 – SHAFIE Apdal has several things going for him in his bid to score big in the next elections: young voters in Sabah rate him the highest among politicians in the state and he has a good standing among Muslim voters.

But there are two red flags for the former Umno leader who hopes to deliver the knockout blow to his former party in GE14.

No. 1: despite criss-crossing the state and holding rallies from October until early April, non-Muslim Bumiputeras and Chinese voters are still undecided about him.

No. 2: much work lies ahead for ‎Parti Warisan Sabah. Some 40% of Sabah voters gave the party a negative rating, while 28% viewed the newcomer positively. The rest did not have an opinion about the party.

Shafie has been drawing large crowds where ever he speaks in Sabah and he has gone on record to say that the voters in the Borneo state were ready for change. The survey did pick up the sense of restlessness and unhappiness over several issues but it was also clear that Sabahans were not inspired by the performance of the opposition.

Much work lies ahead for Shafie and his ilk before they can start talking about regime change.

This was borne out by the fact that individual Sabah BN leaders and their parties continued to enjoy high ratings.

Sabah opposition leader Jeffrey Kitingan said a reason for Sabahans’ dim view of opposition parties was their disunity and the fact that they contested against each other.

Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) veteran Joseph Pairin Kitingan enjoyed the highest favourability rating among the politicians named in the survey. About 55% of those polled viewed him positively as opposed to 29% who did not.

Joseph was liked by a broad cross section of Sabah’s many communities and faiths from Muslims to non-Muslims, said Merdeka Center executive director Ibrahim Suffian.

Chief Minister Musa Aman had a 50% favourability rating drawn mostly from the Muslim Bumiputera community, women and rural voters.

Umno and PBS, the two largest parties in Sabah, attracted the highest favourability rating among voters, indicating the loyal party base that they have accumulated over the decades, said Ibrahim.

Warisan’s leader Shafie had an overall favourability rating of 42%. Among Muslim Bumiputeras, his favourability ratings are at 54%, which is likely because of his stature as a top Umno leader.

“But a large proportion of non-Muslim Bumiputeras and Chinese Sabahans have not formed an opinion of him,” said Ibrahim.

“It should be noted that Shafie also attracts the highest level of favourability among younger Sabah voters – with 62% of 20-year-olds expressing positive attitudes towards him.”

Despite the results, Warisan deputy chief Darell Leiking was cautiously optimistic that his party would still make an impact in the general election.

“The turnouts at our programmes are very encouraging throughout Sabah, especially on the east coast,” Leiking told The Malaysian Insight.

“If we can form a united front in the general elections, with one-to-one contests against BN (Barisan Nasional), we could have a chance of taking over the state,” said Jeffrey, the Sabah Reform Party president, who was viewed favourably by 39% of those polled.

Other findings of the survey include:

  • Umno has the highest overall favourability rating among all political parties where 50% of those polled saw it positively compared with 42% who saw it negatively;
  • PBS was the second favourite with a positive rating of 49% versus a negative of 36%;
  • Warisan received a negative rating among 40% of those polled while 28% viewed them positively. However, about one third of those surveyed had no opinion of the new party. Nearly half (48%) of young voters saw it in positive light;
  • DAP, which has the most number of seats among opposition parties was positively received by the Chinese community at 57%;
  • PKR had net negative ratings across all age groups, communities, income brackets and occupations – meaning more respondents viewed it negatively than positively. – May 19, 2017