Malay Mail Online | KUALA LUMPUR, 04-April-2016 — Sarawak voters’ primary worry over rising costs and economic hardship meant the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition will have an advantage over rivals in the upcoming Sarawak election, Merdeka Center said today.
The independent pollster said 33 per cent of 815 Sarawakian voters surveyed were most concerned about economic issues, which outstripped those who felt the Sarawak government needed to pay attention to the state’s development and infrastructure (28 per cent), state administration (8 per cent) and public safety (5 per cent).
“In our opinion, the issues that drive this election remain rooted on fundamental pocket book issues (i.e. cost of living and jobs) as well as demands for provision of basic infrastructure services in the rural constituencies of Sarawak.
“This provides latent advantage to the incumbent state ruling party as compared to the opposition as the former remains best placed to resolve such issues as compared to the latter,” it said in releasing the results of its self-funded January poll.
According to the survey results, 52 per cent of those polled said they were able to make ends meet, while 45 per cent admitted to having problems in fulfilling their financial obligations.
The majority of those polled expressed strong negative sentiments about job opportunities and the prices of consumer goods, with those saying it was unfavourable amounting to 60 per cent and 81 per cent respectively.
Among those polled, 51 per cent said their personal income was unfavourable while 40 per cent felt it was favourable.
The respondents were divided about Sarawak’s current economy with 44 per cent saying it was favourable while 50 per cent said it was unfavourable, while an overall 45 per cent and 43 per cent said they were pessimistic and optimistic about the state economy’s outlook.
Despite the cautious sentiments about the state’s economy, 55 per cent of those polled felt that Sarawak was headed in the right direction, which showed a stable outcome as 56 per cent in an earlier Merdeka Center poll last April had said the same thing.
“Among the top three reasons for voters’ positive views on the state direction included visible improvement in the state’s development and infrastructure, an economy that was still perceived to be growing and positive state leadership,” Merdeka Center said.
As for the 32 per cent who felt Sarawak was headed in the wrong direction, the main reason was related to economic worries such as living costs and job opportunities, as well as gaps in the provision of infrastructure in the state’s rural areas, Merdeka Center said.
Past surveys by Merdeka Center showed a switch in respondents’ sentiments from May 2012 when 56 per cent felt Sarawak was moving towards the wrong direction, to 59 per cent and 56 per cent saying in December 2013 and last April that the state was headed in the right direction.
In the survey held from January 20 to January 26, 815 registered voters from all 82 state seats to be contested in the Sarawak election were interviewed through fixed line and mobile telephones.
The Sarawak state legislative assembly will be dissolved on April 11, with the state election for 82 seats required to be held within 60 days from that day.
The Election Commission has not fixed the nomination and polling date for this year’s Sarawak election that will be carried out with a budget of RM135 million, but Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem has indicated his preference for polls to be held on April 30.
Based on the latest electoral roll gazetted last December, a total of 1,141,294 people are eligible to vote in the Sarawak polls, including 14,000 and 9,500 from the armed forces and the police respectively.