KUALA LUMPUR: Youths from Malaysia’s six minority groups - Indian Muslims, Portuguese, Baba Nyonya, Orang Asli, Siamese, and Chitty - view favourably Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his populist approach.
This is the finding from a maiden study conducted by University Putra Malaysia’s (UPM) Social Anthropologist Dr Sarjit Singh Gill to evaluate the political knowledge and political inclination of the minorities.
The study on Minority Perception and Acceptance on the Ruling Party also revealed that these minorities representing 8 per cent of the country’s 28million population are very observant of the political on goings though they are not active participants in the mainstream politics.
A total of 54.2 per cent of the respondents in the study observed Najib being the best choice for the prime minister’s post compared with PKR defacto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, PAS’ Spiritual Head Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, DAP Chairman Karpal Singh, MCA President Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek, DAP Parliamentary Leader Lim Kit Siang, MIC President Datuk G. Palanivel.
Sarjit’s survey also found that an average of 82 percent of the 850 respondents would vote for the ruling Barisan National (BN) in the coming election though a substantial number of Baba Nyonya indicated their preference for PKR.
"The minorities’ vote will definitely count in the 13th General Election especially when looking at 66.5 percent of the respondents were registered voters with 53.1 percent of them having voted in the last general election," said Sarjit on the minorities who were literally obscure in the country’s political landscape until the 2008 General Election that witnessed BN losing heavily.
The outcome of the study augurs well for Najib and BN, and coincides with the findings of an earlier study by Professor Datuk Dr Syed Arabi Idid of the International Islamic University Malaysia among voters of the broader ethnic groups published last month indicating Najib’s growing popularity since 2009.
Sarjit’s two-year research on these minority youths aged between 17-40 was funded by UPM research university grant scheme with the field survey conductedfrom June-July 2011.
Sarjit, who is also the head of UPM’s Social Science and Development Department at the Faculty of Human Ecology, noted that these minorities too hold political aspirations of their own but face difficulty in associating themselves with the racially divided political parties.
"The Baba Nyonya feel that they are closer to the Chinese but could notidentify themselves with MCA, the same goes to Chitty who feel that they are closer to MIC but because they do not fit into the broader ethnic group they are sidelined by the parties," he told Bernama.
Nonetheless, a significant percentage of the Indian Muslims (67.6 per cent),Portuguese (41.8 per cent), Orang Asli (74.2 per cent), Siamese (76.7 per cent) indicated their preference to be with Umno while the Baba Nyonya preferred to be with MCA (25.6 per cent), DAP (16.3 per cent) and PKR (11.6 per cent) with a significant portion showing no inclination towards any party (46.5 per cent).
The Chitty preferred to be affiliated with MIC (56.8 per cent) but lament that the party is indifferent towards them.
Another notable finding of this study is that a significant number of youths from these communities, except for the Indian Muslims, rely on the traditional media like newspapers and television and not the alternative media like Internet to keep abreast with the current political developments.
They score high on general knowledge about Malaysia, contemporary politics and election, and generally have a favourable perception on BN and the government policies.
Their choice of the candidates varied according to religion, state and political ideology except for the Baba Nyonya who preferred candidates from their own clan, own beliefs and own state.
Like the earlier study conducted by Syed Arabi, Sarjit too used Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to benchmark voters’ preference and it was obvious the former prime minister still holds sway with 28.7 per cent of the respondents naming him as the next most suitable candidate after Najib to lead the country.
Additionally, Sarjit opined that Dr Mahathir’s impressive legacy made the respondents choose his son Datuk Mukriz Tun Mahathir as a highly regarded youth leader (58.7 per cent). Mukriz led the pact with PAS Youth Chief Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi, MCA Youth Chief Datuk Ir Wee Ka Siong, Umno Vice Youth Chief Datuk Razali Ibrahim, DAP’s Gobind Singh Deo, Umno Youth Head Khairy Jamaludin and MIC youth Head T. Mohanall trailing behind with score below 10 per cent.
Sarjit also pointed out that the minorities, except for the Orang Asli and the Portuguese, felt that they were an ignored lot all this while and the testimony to this is that no parties/committees exists to look into the affairsof Indian Muslims, Chitty and Baba Nyonya in most states.
Though these minorities who do not fit into the broader ethnic groups may have been ignored previously, they could well be the kingmakers in the upcoming13th General Election widely expected to take place in the first quarter of 2012. -- BERNAMA