Poll: Candidate trumps party

By Zedeck Siew, The Nut Graph

The quality of the candidate standing in the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary by-election is more important than current issues and party capability, a new poll has revealed.

Seventy-seven percent of a 527-person sample polled by the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research considered the quality of the candidate as "very important", while factors such as the "trustworthiness of party leaders" and "current issues" rated lower. This tendency remained even as the responses were tallied by ethnicity.

However, Chinese Malaysian respondents appeared to feel strongly about the issue of fair treatment, regardless of race or bumiputera status. Ninety-four percent of 119 ethnically Chinese Malaysians queried chose "supremacy of the people" as a more appropriate ideal for Malaysian politics, as opposed to "Malay dominance".

More than half (53%) of the Chinese Malaysians polled thought that the Terengganu state government should concentrate on treating non-Malay Malaysians equally.

The Kuala Terengganu by-election is a three-way fight between the Barisan Nasional (BN)'s Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh from Umno, PAS's Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut, and independent Azharudin Mamat @ Adam. The Chinese Malaysian community, which comprises 10.95% of voters, is widely believed to be the swing vote in the by-election.

According to the Merdeka Centre, the survey was conducted from 7 to 10 Jan, and was designed to "uncover issues affecting the voters …as well as to uncover how they are responding to statements and campaign issues brought forth by the contesting parties."

The sample comprised voters registered in Kuala Terengganu, and were interviewed by telephone.