Pollster: Anwar to win PD comfortably with non-Malay support; Isa closest contender

Ida Lim
Azlan said it was the expectation that Anwar would become the next prime minister that helped him stand out among the Port Dickson election candidates. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 12 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s victory in a seven-man fight for the Port Dickson seat is virtually in the bag with non-Malay voters’ supporting him, think-tank Ilham Centre said today.

The think-tank also believes that former Umno strongman Tan Sri Isa Samad will only manage to be his closest challenger.

Ilham Centre said Anwar remains the only prominent candidate before voting day tomorrow in the Port Dickson by-election, citing indicators such as an orderly campaign team and election machinery at each voting centre, as well as the variety of campaign materials seen throughout the federal seat in Negri Sembilan.

“Based on survey findings, 64 per cent of voters accept Anwar Ibrahim’s choice of Port Dickson as his base to take over the prime minister’s post after Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad,” Ilham Centre executive director Azlan Zainal said in a statement this evening, describing Anwar as being in a comfortable position with the advantage of non-Malay support.

Azlan was referring to Ilham Centre’s survey from October 8 to October 11 through face-to-face interviews with 817 respondents in Port Dickson covering all segments in terms of ethnic group, gender, age group and locality and with a margin of error of 2.03 per cent.

Azlan said that it was in fact the expectation that Anwar would become the next prime minister that helped him stand out among the Port Dickson election candidates.

“The question that arises among voters is how far is Anwar’s desire to stay in Port Dickson in the coming 15th general election if he wins, as he does not have a sentimental value and legacy in this area,” he said of Anwar, who had in the past made Permatang Pauh in Penang his political stronghold.

Just Isa and Anwar

Ilham Centre noted that the survey showed Isa as Anwar’s strongest contender, despite joining the race as an independent candidate who is not contesting on an Umno-Barisan Nasional ticket.

It said Isa — a former Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar —still retained strong support especially in two out of five state seats within the Port Dickson federal seat (Bagan Pinang and Linggi).

“The influence of kinship, sentiments of personal ties between him and the voters as well as the element of the politics of ‘balas budi’ (returning the favour) is very strong in these two areas.

“The majority of respondents especially among the elderly and the Umno veterans that we met agreed that Isa Samad had contributed much in developing their area when he was Bagan Pinang state assemblyman and Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar,” Ilham Centre said.

The think-tank said however that Isa will lose out on votes from the ethnic Chinese and Indian communities, as the non-Malay votes are still firmly for Pakatan Harapan and strongly against any candidates that are not from the ruling coalition.

Isa will also lose out on some votes from Umno members as he had quit Umno to be an independent candidate, while youths below the age of 40 do not share the same sentimental feelings towards Isa like their preceding generation.

“Umno youths appear to have lost their direction in this by-election. Isa Samad’s image that is tainted with scandal and the Felda leadership’s failure forms the backdrop for his negative image among young voters,” Azlan said.

Port Dickson currently has 75,770 registered voters, with 43 per cent being Malays, while 33 per cent are Chinese and 22 per cent are Indians, with other ethnic groups making up the remaining two per cent.

Azlan said Dr Mahathir’s recent appearance in Port Dickson to campaign for Anwar has helped deal with talks of alleged loose ties between the two, as well as giving a slight boost in Malay support towards Anwar.

Earlier in his statement, Azlan had noted that it was hard to accurately tell how Malay-Umno voters would vote this time, as they could either vote for ex-Umno leader Isa, the PAS candidate due to sentiments revolving around Islam and the Malay ethnicity, Anwar or boycott the by-election entirely.

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