Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pollster: 88% of M'sians back Bersih demands

Pollster: 88% of M'sians back Bersih demands
Nigel Aw
Aug 29, 11
3:33pm


More than two thirds of Malaysians agree with the demands advocated by electoral reform group Bersih 2.0, says pollster Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research.

public responses to electoral reforms 290811 merdeka center pollA survey of 1,027 respondents from Aug 11-27 found an overwhelming number of Malaysians - 88 percent - want a review of the electoral roll and for it to be cleaned up.

The support cuts across ethnic lines, with 89 percent of Malays, 85 percent of Chinese, and 88 percent of Indians wanting the electoral roll to be cleaned up.

The vast majority of Malaysians also support other aspects of electoral reform, with 70 percent of Malaysians agreeing to the use of indelible ink and the presence of foreign observers during elections.

Bersih 2.0 and the opposition have been advocating the use of indelible ink to prevent the issue of phantom voting but the government has proposed the use of the biometric system, which will cost significantly higher.

election commission chief abdul aziz yusofFurther, Election Commission chief Abdul Aziz Yusof (left) recently conceded that the biometric system would inherently have more problems and has promised to consider both options.

Also, 68 percent of respondents agree that the opposition should have access to the mainstream media, a medium that is controlled and dominated by the ruling coalition.

Like other aspects of reforms, trends indicate that such support cuts across ethnic lines.

While the pro-reform stance on the electoral system may reflect what Bersih 2.0 is advocating for, only 49 percent of those polled were aware of the group's actual demands.

Degree of sympathy

Despite this, there appears to be a degree of sympathy for the electoral reform coalition of 62 NGOs, as almost half, or 48 percent of Malaysians, disapprove the government's handling of Bersih's July 9 rally, with only 39 percent agreeing.

The overwhelming dissatisfaction comes from the Chinese community with a record 68 percent followed by Indians at 55 percent.

However, the majority of Malays approved of the government's handling of the July 9 rally which stood at 57 percent as opposed to 37 percent who disapproved.

Bersih is calling for the electoral roll to be cleaned up, reforms to postal voting, use of indelible ink and free and fair access to the media.

The group also wants a minimum campaign period of 21 days, the strengthening of public institutions and a stop to corruption and dirty politics.

In reaction to sustained pressure from the coalition, the government has since announced that it will be setting up a parliamentary select committee on electoral reform.

However, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's refusal to guarantee that the electoral reforms would be put in place before the next general election is called has dampened all hopes in the proposed committee.

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