Research manager Tan Seng Keat notes that whenever survey results are in Najib’s favour, it is highlighted in the pro-BN media, but when results are negative, Merdeka Centre is vilified.
PETALING JAYA: Merdeka Centre has denied its survey which showed Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s popularity taking a nosedive was meant to “poison” the people’s mind, as alleged by NGO Centre for Political Awareness Malaysia (CPAM).
The research house stressed that it was normal for a leader’s approval ratings to fluctuate due to current events and the fact that Najib’s popularity had sunk to 52% in its latest findings did not mean it was biased or lying.
“When the numbers went up in 2009, the results came out in (pro-BN media organisations) TV3 and Utusan, whereas when Najib’s numbers go down, we are vilified,” Tan Seng Keat, Merdeka Centre’s research manager, told FMT.
“But our methodology throughout the years has always been the same, and we mention it clearly in our report. We are doing a good job and we are independent.”
CPAM president Huan Cheng Guan had said in a statement last week that Merdeka Centre had an “uncanny knack of distorting survey results which are not collected via reliable research methods to suit their hidden agenda”.
He claimed that the sampling size of 1005 respondents for Najib’s approval survey was too small, and added that Merdeka Centre had failed to mention the age, gender, class, education and political background of the respondents.
“How can we be sure that a deliberate sampling of Malaysians who are anti-PM was not carried out?” Huan asked.
The report, released on Dec 18 clearly stated the profile of the respondents, including ethnicity, gender, occupation, age group and household income, and has prompted Tan to ask whether Huan has even read the report in the first place.
“Even in countries such as the US, UK, Japan, they always poll around 1000 people, and the research is considered accurate. Having a rigid sampling method is more important than having a huge sampling size,” said Tan.
He added that it was impossible for the centre’s team of researches to have targeted anti-Najib respondents given that participants had been selected through a random stratified sampling method and contacted over the telephone.
Huan had argued last week that it was “biased” for the research centre to have conducted a survey at a time when Najib’s administration were announcing a rise in petrol prices, abolition of sugar subsidies, and the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST).
But Tan pointed out that it was normal procedure for Merdeka Centre to carry out surveys after any major announcements are made, such as after the release of the annual budget or after the Umno general assembly.
“It’s not about good or bad timing for Najib, but about gauging the people’s response to any major announcement. In the latest survey, we found that everyone from all classes are upset with the prime minister.
“And Najib’s office have issued a statement in response to our findings, acknowledging the people’s voice. There was no conspiracy theory there,” said Tan.
When asked about Merdeka Centre’s funding, Tan replied it was an internal matter, but reminded that the New Straits Times had apologized to the research house last month for alleging that it was receiving vast foreign funds to destabilize the government.