Survey shows ‘quiet’ Khairy still most popular Opposition leader, followed by Najib

Thasha Jayamanogaran
Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin is seen in the lobby of Parliament in Kuala Lumpur July 15, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 16 — Voters nowadays select their leaders based on how vocal they are, their clarity of thought while communicating and how consistent they are when it comes to communication, a recent survey has shown.

A 21-days survey conducted by Citrine One, in collaboration with Callmark Solutions Sdn Bhd, showed that gone are the days where the head of political parties gaining popular votes are automatically the people's choice.

The survey, aimed to gauge public’s opinion on the communication style and the effectiveness of communication strategy by the Opposition parties and their leaders, revealed that 80 per cent of the 1,115 respondents mostly from the Klang Valley, voted for Umno MP Khairy Jamaluddin on a popularity scale of 5 and 8, with 8 being the highest.

His position was further sealed with respondents selecting him as the most trusted Opposition leader in an open-ended question with 170 mentions out of 357 respondents who answered the questions.

Khairy was ahead of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who ranked second place despite being embroiled in corruption scandals.

64 per cent of respondents scored Najib as the second highest on the popularity scale. On top of that, he received 45 mentions from the open-ended question on the most trusted Opposition leader, which shows that there is still substantial support for him from the urban crowd as the majority of the respondents were from Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.

Citrine One said respondents chose Khairy as the most popular Opposition leader based on how vocal they are (33 per cent) followed by clarity in thought while communicating (17 per cent) and being consistent with communication (14 per cent).

Citrine One managing partner and crisis communications lead counsel Ivlynn Yap speaks during a media briefing in Kuala Lumpur October 16, 2019. — Picture by Choo Choy May

“Khairy’s popularity and trustworthiness clearly shows that people have moved towards voting based on how vocal the leaders are as well as their clarity of thought while communicating and being consistent with their communication.

“Moreover, the period the survey was conducted was when Khairy was actually silent after Najib became the advisor to Umno. It was conducted from Sept 13 to Oct 3. Khairy was very quiet but people still remember him,” Citrine One managing partner and crisis communications lead counsel Ivlynn Yap said during a media briefing held at KL Eco City.

“This is a sign of progress from the rakyat. It shows that people are telling leaders: 'You can be vocal but please be clear and have clarity while communicating',” she added.

PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang was the third most popular Opposition leader as 52 respondents scored him higher on the scale while others on the list were Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan (49 per cent), MCA President Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong (49 per cent), Padang Rengas MP Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz (47 per cent), Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Openg (43per cent), and Gerakan vice president Datuk Dr Dominic Lau (36 per cent).

The survey also found Umno to be the most popular Opposition party in Malaysia with 69 per cent of respondents marking them higher on the scale.

PAS clinched the second spot with 55 per cent. Interestingly, MCA emerged the third highest with 52 per cent, indicating that the party may not be down and out entirely as yet and is still an active force in the Malaysian political scene, especially now, with considerations of fielding a candidate in the upcoming Tanjung Piai by-election.

Other parties on the list include Gerakan and MIC, which tied at fourth place with 42 per cent.

These parties were chosen based on their vocal nature (52 per cent), consistency in communicating (19 per cent) as well as being clear and concise in their communication (11 per cent).

Being convincing and trustworthiness are two traits that received the least number of votes — from only nine per cent of respondents.

“Based on the choices stated in the survey, in general, it is evident that trust is not a trait which the respondents associate with the Opposition party or leaders. This should be of great concern to the related parties as with low trust factor, they may still face a big hurdle in urban and semi-urban constituencies,” Yap said.

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