Monday, 29 August 2011

Most Malaysians agree with Bersih demands, poll finds

August 29, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 — Over two-thirds of Malaysians agree with the demands mooted by electoral watchdog Bersih while close to half disagreed with the way the government handled last month’s Bersih rally and the events leading up to it, a Merdeka Center poll has shown.

Seventy per cent agreed that foreign observers should be allowed to monitor elections while 68 per cent felt opposition parties should be given access to government-owned television and radio stations for at least one hour a day.

File photo of police shooting water cannons at people at the Bersih rally in Kuala Lumpur on July 9.
Use of indelible ink was supported by 70 per cent of those polled and a whopping 88 per cent agreed that the electoral roll must be cleaned up.
Support for foreign observers and greater opposition access to media were strongest among the Chinese (74 per cent and 84 per cent, respectively) while Indians were most likely to agree to the use of indelible ink (83 per cent).

On the other hand, support for the electoral roll to be cleaned up was fairly even across the three main races of Peninsular Malaysia — Malays (89 per cent), Chinese (85 per cent) and Indians (88 per cent).

Almost half of the respondents said they understood Bersih’s eight electoral reform demands, with more Indians claiming to know “a great deal” about them.

Forty-nine per cent of respondents were also dissatisfied with the government’s handling of the Bersih rally and issues surrounding it compared to 39 per cent who expressed satisfaction.

The Chinese were most dissatisfied with the way the government handled Bersih (68 per cent), followed by Indians (55 per cent) and Malays (37 per cent).

Malays were also the only group where more agreed with the way the Najib administration handled Bersih than not, with 53 per cent saying they were satisfied with how the government reacted to the rally.

Thousands of Bersih supporters flooded the streets of the capital on July 9 to demand for free and fair elections after talks between the election watchdog and the government broke down.

This was despite an unprecedented intervention by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, who called on both sides to reach an amicable solution for the sake of national stability.

Bersih has demanded that Putrajaya execute eight electoral reforms before the next general election, expected to be called soon.

The survey of 1,027 randomly selected registered voters aged 21 and above was carried out between August 11 and 27.

Respondents were selected using the random, stratified sampling method and structured along the national electorate profile and specifically proportional to gender, ethnicity, age groups and state of residence.

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