PETALING JAYA: A survey of voters in Tanjung Piai by pollster Ilham Centre has found a swing of Chinese support to Barisan Nasional (BN) ahead of the Tanjung Piai by-election on Saturday.
It said a random poll involving 394 voters representing voters across races, gender, age and localities points to a comfortable victory for BN’s Wee Jeck Seng, saying it is a reflection of the strong grassroots support for Umno in Johor despite losing the state in the last general election.
It said Pakatan Harapan won Tanjung Piai in the 2018 election due to the presence of PAS, which had forced a three-cornered contest between three big political parties.
“Using simple mathematics, PH is already behind by 1,902 votes even before the contest started,” said Ilham, which conducted the poll between Nov 9 and 11.
It said that 74% of votes for PH for Tanjung Piai last year were from Chinese voters, who make up about 42% of the electorate there.
But this was below the 94% national average of Chinese support for the ruling coalition, said Ilham Centre.
“This proves that MCA has strong grassroots support in Tanjung Piai. If there is a swing of votes from PH to BN, or people not going out to vote or voting for other candidates, it will have a big impact on the victor’s winning margin,” it added.
The study said among reasons Chinese votes would swing to BN were the PH government’s failure to fulfil its election manifesto (59.1%), federal government’s poor performance (59%), the state government’s poor performance (53%) and rising living costs (60%).
It said the coming together of PAS and Umno would not affect Chinese sentiments for BN, with only 40% agreeing to a suggestion that the two Malay parties’ “Muafakat Nasional” (National Unity Charter) would sideline non-Malay communities.
It said support for BN among Malay voters remains the same, with those who voted for PAS in the 2018 elections expected to switch to BN this time.
It said the choice of Wee to contest the by-election was an added boon to BN, as Wee has been a more familiar and well-accepted figure among the constituents compared with his nearest rival, PH’s Karmaine Sardini.
Apart from Wee and Karmaine, four other candidates vying for the seat are Wendy Subramaniam of Gerakan, Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz of Berjasa and independent candidates Ang Chuan Lock and Faridah Aryani Abd Ghaffar.
Ilham Centre said 75% of respondents put Wee as the candidate with the highest credibility, as opposed to only 24% who picked Karmaine.
It said the other four candidates would not make any impact.
“The showdown is between BN and PH only. Berjasa, Gerakan and two other independents are not in the minds of voters here,” it added.
In the May 9 general election last year, Dr Md Farid Md Rafik (PH-PPBM) obtained 39.7% of the votes (21,255), Wee (BN-MCA) 38.7% (20,731) and Nordin Othman (PAS) 5.5% (2,962).
Malays make up 56.8% of the voters, Chinese 41.64% and Indians 1.01%.