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.

Sabah BN must overcome voters’ unhappiness, state leaders say – By Ida Lim

Merdeka Center said Musa’s decline in popularity was most marked among Muslim-Bumiputera voters. — File pic

The Malaysian Insider | KUALA LUMPUR, 07-Oct-2012 — The Sabah government needs to find out why voters surveyed last month are dissatisfied with it, especially the economy, and work to improve their services, say Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders from the coalition’s key votebank.

A Merdeka Center survey released on Friday showed 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 per cent drop from 62 per cent in November 2009. The country’s easternmost state has been described as BN’s “fixed deposit”.

“I think the only way to solve all the problem, BN Sabah should work smart and consider what (are the) people’s problem, what people need,” said senior Umno backbencher Datuk Bung Moktar Radin, adding that the BN goverment “should do more” to develop the state.

But Bung Mokhtar said the state government cannot deliver everything,  pointing out that it was the same for other states and even United States  President Barack Obama has been criticised by his own people.

“What I can see state government is hardworking, of course not everything they can deliver,” the Kinabatangan MP told The Malaysian Insider.

“The people, they know how to see you, they know how to judge you. We cannot hide anything,” he said, when commenting on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman’s ratings.

The survey showed Najib’s ratings remaining stable at 75 per cent, but Musa’s fell from 60 per cent in November 2009 to 45 per cent in September, suggesting the ruling BN will be faced with some hurdles in its stronghold ahead of elections soon.

Merdeka Center said Musa’s decline in popularity was most marked among Muslim-Bumiputera voters who are the backbone of the state’s Umno support, with a drop from 72 per cent in November 2009 to 51 per cent last month.

Musa is also the Sabah Umno chief and Sabah BN chief.

When asked if there should be a change in the chief minister, Bung Mokhtar said: ”No comment. It’s up to PM’s prerogative.”

When asked about the survey results, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) president Datuk V.K. Liew said: ”That’s why I want to know why they are not satisfied, is it because not able to perform…, is it because of economy or corruption?”

He added that allegations of corruption should not be made without the furnishing of evidence, saying that sometimes people make such claims due to “jealousy”.

Liew pointed to the huge amount in Sabah’s coffers as proof that the state is doing well when commenting on Sabahans being unsatisfied with the state’s economic performance.

“It’s a joke because state government’s coffer has RM4 billion,” adding that it was an unfair statement to make, saying that Sabah has more in its coffers compared to Penang and Selangor.

He said the state government can still improve their services and change voters’ opinion before the 13th general elections.

“Since we have about six months before term of government expires, so public perception can change gradually over the performance of government.”

Sabah Umno deputy head Datuk Seri SallehSaid Keruak said opinion polls and surveys have advantages, but if not properly carried out, it can be flawed and disrespectful to certain parties.

Without saying as much that a recent Merdeka Centre survey was wrong, Salleh said that if a survey was driven by an agenda, there was little to

prevent those behind it from manipulating the results to fit the plan.

“Even the wording of the questions (in the survey) can whip up a certain response and provoke the person from saying things he never intended to say in the first place,” he said in a statement carried by state news agency Bernama.

Salleh said he personally did not think that Musa’s popularity had shrunk nor his decisions on how the state is developed had negative implications on the  people.

Sabah and Sarawak are crucial frontline states which both BN and the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) will have to win in order to take Putrajaya in the next general election.

In Election 2008, BN lost the popular vote in Peninsular Malaysia and analysts say the sentiment remains largely the same in the months leading up to the next 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 economic development and infrastructure.

No time like tomorrow. Another budget, more cash handouts and more dithering over an election date

Najib, coiled for action

economist.com THE prime minister, Najib Razak, fancies himself as the Tony Blair of Malaysian politics. Like the former British prime minister, Mr Najib purports to be a progressive reformer, on a mission to “modernise” his country. The British-educated Mr Najib also likes to pay as much attention to the spin on his policies as to their substance. He even hires former Blair advisers to make sure he gets it right.

For all that, Mr Najib increasingly resembles the hapless Gordon Brown, Mr Blair’s nemesis and successor. For years Mr Brown agitated to push his rival aside. When at last he succeeded, Mr Brown blew it by missing the chance to call an early election while he was still relatively popular. Rather than winning his own mandate, Mr Brown, unelected and indecisive, watched his authority drain away until he was boxed into calling an election right at the end of his term—which he then lost.

Similarly, Mr Najib took over after an internal party coup in April 2009 against the then prime minister, Abdullah Badawi. Talk of an early election for Mr Najib to secure his own mandate first surfaced towards the end of 2010. He himself began to talk up his chances the following June. Then an election was expected towards the middle of this year. All along, Malaysia has been on an election footing, with the cautious Mr Najib ponderously cultivating the voters.

He has crafted new policies for Malaysia’s younger, unaligned citizens while giving away plenty of money to retain his party’s traditional supporters, especially among the ethnic-Malay (and Muslim) majority. In the budget in late September more cash handouts went to poorer households and a one-month salary bonus to all government workers. They usually vote for Mr Najib’s United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

Would that there were more to show for all the shadow electioneering. Opinion polls conducted by the respected Merdeka Centre (the latest were for June) gave the prime minister an approval rating of 64%, down from the high point of his popularity in the middle of 2010. Still not bad, you might think, but the popularity of the ruling coalition, the Barisan Nasional (BN), is much lower than the prime minister’s own. So now Mr Najib’s options are diminishing fast. He is required to call an election by April at the latest. In the process he has acquired a reputation for dithering, and now has the regrettable distinction of being Malaysia’s second-longest-serving unelected prime minister, just behind his own father, the country’s second prime minister.

Given UMNO’s deep pockets and its practice of gerrymandering constituency boundaries, winning a simple majority has always looked relatively easy for Mr Najib. After all, the ruling coalition, made up of UMNO and several smaller parties, has achieved that in every election since independence in 1957. Yet Mr Najib’s real aim is to win back the two-thirds majority that the BN lost for the first time at the last election, in 2008. In so doing the BN lost its power, among other things, to tinker with the constitution. That failure led directly to the coup against Mr Badawi and the elevation of Mr Najib. The prime minister knows that if he fails to reverse the humiliation of 2008, a genuinely hard task, then he could go the same way as his predecessor. (His chief protection is that personally he remains more popular than the BN.)

Mr Najib has also been spooked by a series of political setbacks. His government mishandled a couple of huge rallies by a coalition of NGOs called Bersih (meaning “clean” in Malay) campaigning for fair elections. And poring perhaps too closely over the minutiae of local-election results, the BN has fretted over a fall in support among Chinese voters. They form the largest minority in the country’s complex ethnic mosaic.

The problem for Malaysia is that the rival parties have been at such a high pitch of combat-readiness for such a long time that the resulting partisanship is poisoning national politics. Pretty murky at the best of times, politics is becoming dirtier by the day. UMNO and its friends in the press and television have been relentless in their assaults on any organisation, such as Bersih, that is deemed to be sympathetic to the opposition. Another target has been an excellent independent website called Malaysiakini. All the old canards about these sorts of groups being in the pay of Zionists, America or George Soros, a foreign financier, have been trotted out. It is not clear whether such slanders still impress Malaysia’s voters, especially its Muslims. They are certainly a sign of desperation.

Merdeka Centre survey a ploy to discredit Sabah CM: Salleh

My Sinchew.com | KOTA KINABALU, 06-Oct-2012 — Opinion polls and surveys have advantages to a certain extent, but if not properly carried out, can be flawed and disrespectful to certain parties, said Sabah Umno deputy head Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak.

Without saying as much that a recent Merdeka Centre survey was wrong, Salleh said that if a survey was driven by an agenda, there was little to prevent those behind it from manipulating the results to fit the plan.

“Even the wording of the questions (in the survey) can whip up a certain response and provoke the person from saying things he never intended to say in the first place,” he said in a statement, here today.

Salleh was commenting on an online report that claimed voter satisfaction with Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman in the state had taken a dive to below 50 percent.

He said he personally did not think that Musa’s popularity had shrunk nor his decisions on how the State is developed had negative implications on the people.

The survey by the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research claimed that satisfaction of Sabah voters towards Musa, who has been head of the state for almost a decade, had dropped significantly from 60 percent in November 2009 to 45 percent in September 2012.

Musa Aman’s approval rating slumps below 50pct

The Malaysian Insider | 05-Oct-2012 – A public opinion poll has found that voter satisfaction of Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman in the state has taken a dive to below 50 percent although the approval rating for Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak still remains high.

A survey by the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research has detected that the satisfaction of Sabah voters towards Musa, who has been head of the state for almost a decade, has dropped significantly from 60 percent in November 2009 to 45 percent in September 2012.

While the decline was recorded across all ethnic groups, surprisingly it was largest from among Muslim bumiputera respondents, falling 21 percent from 72 percent, to 51 percent.

Contrary to Musa’s popularity, Najib’s popularity remained stable and high when 75 percent of the respondents were satisfied with his performance, compared to 77 percent in November 2009.

Similarly, voter satisfaction towards the state government remained positive at 56 percent, although it recorded a six percent decline from 62 percent in November 2009.

“It also indicates that voters had different expectations on political leadership at various levels,” it added in a statement today.The independent pollster commented that the marked difference in voter perceptions towards key political leadership and the state government reflected a “Sabah-centric” sentiment exhibited by voters.

The survey also detected a slump in the economic sentiment among the voters, with more than half of the respondents having expressed dissatisfaction with the economy in the Land Below the Wind.

This is the second and last release from the survey carried out by the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research between Sept 6 to 17 to gauge voters’ perceptions of current developments in Sabah.

 

CM’s ratings take a dive, Najib’s remain high among Sabah voters

Musa’s falling popularity will be cause for concern for the ruling BN. — File pic

The Malaysian Insider | KUALA LUMPUR, 05-Oct-2012 — Voters in Sabah remained happy with Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s performance as prime minister, but Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman’s ratings fell sharply, a recent poll by Merdeka Center showed.

Najib’s ratings remained stable at 75 per cent, but Musa’s fell from 60 per cent in November 2009 to 45 per cent in September, suggesting the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) will be faced with some hurdles in its stronghold ahead of elections soon.

A majority of voters surveyed — 57 per cent — also reported dissatisfaction with Sabah’s economic performance.

The independent research house said that voter satisfaction for the state government remained in positive territory at 56 per cent but also reflected a six per cent decline from 62 per cent in November 2009.

But Musa’s falling popularity will be cause for concern, with Merdeka Center saying its survey also showed that his declining ratings were most marked among Muslim-Bumiputera voters who are the backbone of the state’s Umno support.

Among Muslim-Bumiputeras, Musa’s ratings have fallen from 72 per cent in November 2009 to 51 per cent last month.

Voter satisfaction for Najib remains high, with his 75 per cent favourability response just short of the 77 per cent he recorded in November 2009.

The result could mean that the BN machinery will have to rely on the Umno president’s popularity to win back a majority of the seats in the state.

Sabah and Sarawak are crucial frontline states which both BN and the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) will have to win in order to take Putrajaya in the next general election.

In Election 2008, BN lost the popular vote in Peninsular Malaysia and analysts say the sentiment remains largely the same in the months leading up to the next elections.

BN will be keen on retaining the Sabah and Sarawak vote as its fixed deposit as it faces what is the most keenly contested elections in the country’s recent history.

“In our view, the marked difference in voter perceptions towards key political leadership and the state government reflected a ‘Sabah-centric’ sentiment exhibited by voters. It also indicates that voters had different expectations on political leadership at various levels,” Merdeka Center said in a press release accompanying the release of its survey results.

In the first part of the survey released earlier this 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 economic development and infrastructure.

Merdeka Center