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As Sarawak polls loom, survey shows Adenan’s approval rating at 74%
27-Jul-2015, The Malaysian Insider
By Anisah Syukry

Merdeka Center executive director Ibrahim Suffian says the Sarawak chief minister's approval rating is at 74%.
– The Malaysian Insider pic by Seth Akmal, July 27, 2015.

Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem's approval rating among voters in the state is at 74%, while 68% are satisfied with the state government's performance, a poll has found, suggesting that the opposition will have an uphill task of wresting the Borneo state in the next election.

The sentiment cut across different demographics and ethnic groups, according to the poll by Merdeka Center, which surveyed 606 respondents through telephone aged 21 and above from April 10 to April 24.

"His approval rating is really very good. Only 13% are dissatisfied with Adenan. I think this will pose a challenge for the opposition as they prepare for the state election," Merdeka Center executive director Ibrahim Suffian told a forum in Petaling Jaya today.

"The high rating is prompted by his promise to improve governance, address the economic and infrastructure needs of the state as well as being more robust and protecting the state's interests."
The survey showed that 67% Chinese approved of the chief minister, 74% non-Malay Bumiputera and 82% Malay Bumiputera.

Ibrahim added that the majority (67%) of the respondents had confidence that Adenan was committed to fighting corruption, and that the state government he led had the political will to do so.

Some 27% said that corruption had reduced under Adenan's leadership, compared with previous years, while more than half (56%) of respondents felt the corruption level in Sarawak is serious.

"It is quite surprising how people change their perception over the state government when a different individual takes over. Just one personality can change the perception of the entire administration," Ibrahim said.

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) political scientist Dr Faisal Hazis said Adenan's leadership had created a "feel good factor" in Sarawak, and compared it with Malaysia's reception towards Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when he first became prime minister.

"Adenan has been splashing a flurry of populist measures. He even planned to review the construction of mega dams, he met with environmental groups in his own house for a dialogue.

"He is engaging with critics, and it is a fresh approach," said Faisal, who was also present at the forum, organised by anti-graft group Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4).

But Faisal cautioned that Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud had similarly started out with liberal policies when he was first installed as Sarawak chief minister.

The survey by Merdeka Center also found that respondents were most concerned about economic issues, such as the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) (15%), inflation and rising cost of living (15%) and public infrastructure (9%).

Despite this, one in two respondents said they felt the state was moving in the right direction, and saw development as a marker of the state government's performance.

Faisal said that it was "quite impossible" for the opposition to take over the Sarawak government in the next election, given factors such as the split in the opposition, Barisan Nasional's (BN) solidarity, the "Adenan factor" and electoral fraud.

In the 2011 state election, BN won 55 seats to keep their two-third majority intact while the opposition won 15 seats – DAP 12 and PKR 3, with an independent candidate winning one. The next state election will be held next year. – July 27, 2015

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