Sunday, 5 May 2013

GE13: Voters could spring surprises on polling day, says analyst

KUCHING: Sarawakian voters were likely to throw up a few surprises on polling day tomorrow, said Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) lecturer Dr Jeniri Amir.

The political communications and history lecturer said, aside from PBB, all three state Barisan Nasional parties could suffer losses.

Jeniri is forecasting SUPP to lose significantly to DAP, PRS to concede a few constituencies to SWP, and SPDP to PKR and an Independent.

According to him, PBB’s only danger seat is Mukah.

“PBB only has Mukah to worry about. The incumbent (Datuk Dr Muhammad Leo Michael Toyad Abdullah) is unpopular and the sentiment against him is quite strong. It is perhaps the only PBB constituency where there is party infighting. The Mukah machinery is not fully mobilised,” Jeniri told The Star yesterday.

SWP, although one of the newest political parties nationally, could take Lubok Antu and Selangau from PRS, he said.

The party, led by Larry Sng, 33, once a rising Barisan star, is contesting in Lubok Antu and his father Datuk Sng Chee Hua is contesting in Selangau.

“You must not discount the Sng factor — as much as some in Barisan would like to. Selangau is a really hot seat. In Lubok Antu, perhaps the Prime Minister’s visit and promise of RM500 extra per family could sway voters,” Jeniri said. “However, I think (Larry) Sng still has the upper hand.”

SWP is only contesting in the six PRS constituencies. SWP’s Sngs and PRS president Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing were once allies but had turned into foes.

However, said Jeniri, the story that would emerged in this general election in Sarawak would be SUPP’s likely severe defeat at the hands of DAP.

“Except for Sibu, I think voters have made up their minds. SUPP is just not beating DAP in the popularity contest. You only have to look at the ceramah (campaign rallies) to know this.”

Jeniri described Chinese voters as “tactical voters”.

“The Chinese are considering the bigger picture, which is to help Pakatan capture Putrajaya. They are not voting for personalities.”

SUPP pick for Stampin Datuk Yong Khoon Seng, would be unable to translate his track record into votes.

“I would say voters did not like Yong’s U-turn.”

As for Ding Kuong Hiing, Jeniri said the party’s Sarikei candidate won over four other candidates — three were Independents and one from DAP — in the last parliamentary polls. “This time, Ding is facing a straight fight,” he said.

SUPP would keep Serian, which has about 70% bumiputra voters, and possibly take back Sibu.

“In Sibu, SUPP could win because of Malay votes in Nangka and Iban votes in Bawang Assan,” opined Jeniri.

As for the hotly contested Saratok, Jeniri said SPDP’s Tan Sri William Mawan was fighting a losing battle against PKR’s Ali Biju due to the dropped incumbent’s insistence to keep a low profile and not campaign for the SPDP chief.

“Mawan is trying his best to pacify the angry voters, but he only has the campaign period to do so. That’s not a lot of time. He might be able to scrape through with the Malay votes, but the thing is Ali is not only Krian assemblyman, but he has been working the ground for two years.”

Finally, Jeniri said Mas Gading remained a grey seat.

The dropped incumbent Datuk Dr Tiki Lafe, who is contesting as an Independent, was in command of the area’s election machinery.

“Also, voters are very confused. Dr Tiki was the face of Barisan for them. Now, he is contesting and yet there is another Barisan candidate?”

Jeniri said a bright spot for Barisan would be Baram, which due to infighting among the Opposition, had turned the constituency into a winnable spot for the ruling coalition.

As for PAS and STAR, Jeniri said both would emerge with zero victories.

“On nomination day, research shows us that about 30% of voters could be undecided. It is the job of the campaign workers and candidates to reduce the amount of undecided voters in their favour.”

Based on the last gazetted electoral roll, there are 1,086,191 eligible voters in Sarawak.

In the 2008 elections, Sarawak had 819,274 registered voters, with 65.1% exercised their democratic rights. This is a slight increase from 62% in the 2004.

Jeniri expected the rising trend to continue.

“We could see about 70% or more to turn up to vote. Political awareness is improving, plus the fact that this is no doubt the toughest general election in recent memory,” he said.-thestar online

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