Divisive politics remains prevalent in Malaysia

Majority of the respondents want the Opposition to speak up on education, cost of living and corruption


MALAYSIA is still dogged with racial rhetorics as divisive politics remains prevalent, according to the Malaysian Opposition Parties Strategic Communications Survey.

Communications agency Citrine One Sdn Bhd managing partner and crisis communication lead counsel Ivlynn Yap Cheng Theng (picture) said majority of the respondents want the Opposition to speak up on education, cost of living and corruption — with 74%, 72% and 67% votes respectively.

In terms of communications strategy, 17% of survey respondents believe the Opposition leaders use racially- sensitive method, while 15% stated the Opposition parties were more vocal, and 14% of respondents believe that the bloc’s communication strategy is confusing.

“Despite the circumstances, people still want Opposition leaders to speak up on corruption as they want them to be more accountable, and also to build a strong voice to criticise the current government if the same corruption issues arise,” Yap said.

Up to 52% of respondents also believe that the Opposition parties speak up only for their own interest, while 29% had their own agenda to fulfil and only 19% are looking out for the rakyat’s wellbeing.

“If the Opposition parties want to become a formidable force, they need to heed these voices on the ground and improve their interactions, service and trust among the people.

“In any democracy, the people hold the highest power and it is about time the parties and politicians begin serving them and speaking up for them objectively if they want to gain footing and more so with the voting age reduced to 18,” she said.

The survey’s findings revealed that former Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin as the most popular Opposition leader and Umno as the popular opposing party.

“Respondents seemed to move towards voting based on how vocal the leader is, as well as their clarity of thoughts while communicating and being consistent with their communication,” Yap said at the survey briefing in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

She added that the survey conduction between Sept 13 and Oct 3, 2019, shows results that signal a shift in the local political scenario towards voting based on a candidate’s capabilities in communicating and debating issues with facts and figures.

“The upcoming Tanjung Piai by-election will be a good watch to see if this voting based on candidate and not party will materialise,” she said.

Yap also added that this shows maturity in the local voter scene, showing that Malaysians are more open to research about their leaders further.

“They also demand for more — a capable leader rather than going with what they are capable of. Locals will want more and more capable leaders to keep growing and communicating with better clarity,” she said.

After Khairy, former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak clinched the second spot in terms of popularity.

PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang is the third most popular Opposition leader in line with 52% respondents, tailed by Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan and Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

Meanwhile, 18 to 30 year olds form the majority of respondents at 45%, followed by respondents aged 31 to 40 at 28%, while those aged 41 to 50 and above make up 15% and 9% respectively.

According to the digital marketing and telemarketing agency Callmark Solutions Sdn Bhd — also a partner for the survey — the demographics were made up of mostly urbanites, noting the 38% and 20% from Selangor and Kuala Lumpur respectively, followed by single digits from other states.