The Straits Times
Published on Apr 26, 2013

Coalitions running neck and neck, survey shows


THE ruling Barisan Nasional and opposition Pakatan Rakyat are running neck and neck in the lead up to Malaysia's May 5 polls, a survey by Malaysia's oldest university showed, as both sides raised their campaign tempo with nine days to go to the election.

The survey by University of Malaya's Centre for Democracy and Elections found both coalitions to have over 40 per cent support, with a slight margin.

"It's very close, not more than 5 per cent. No party can say it will win," said the centre's director Mohammad Redzuan Othman, declining to say who was ahead or provide precise numbers.

"There is a long way to go."

Besides, he added, things change too fast in an election to state with any certainty.

The survey, which polled 1,047 voters in Peninsular Malaysia from April 3 to last Saturday, found that 9 per cent said they were still undecided. They were mostly Malay civil servants and teachers who are first-time voters.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib Razak and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim criss-crossed Malaysia as the campaign intensified. Mr Najib was in his home constituency of Pekan in Pahang for the second day while Mr Anwar headed to Bentong in the same state to campaign for environmentalist Wong Tack, who is up against Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai.

Since Nomination Day on April 20, there has been a spate of violent incidents.

In George Town, Penang, police picked up three suspects in connection with a minor blast at a BN rally on Tuesday. The men were between 21 and 45 years of age.

In the Tuesday incident, a home-made bomb planted in a pile of garbage behind the main stage at a Gerakan event went off and injured a man.

In Perak yesterday, a molotov cocktail was hurled into a BN operations centre near Buntong.

Although both coalitions were neck and neck in the University of Malaya survey conducted a week ago, Professor Redzuan said things can change very rapidly.

In 2008, he said, it was only in the last three to four days - after a mega-opposition rally took place in Penang, that the PR gained the momentum that propelled it to unprecedented gains.

"Things are still very dynamic. A five percentage point swing can make a lot of difference," Prof Redzuan said.

More than 13 million people are eligible to vote in the May 5 polls.