'Rejecting survey findings doesn't mean PKR in self-denial’ - Experts
SHAH ALAM - An internal survey within the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) to evaluate the popularity and performance of the unity government indicates status quo support for the administration of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
This was the comment made by PKR's Deputy President Rafizi Ramli regarding the Merdeka Centre's survey findings on Wednesday which revealed a decline in Anwar's approval rating as Prime Minister to 50 per cent.
"Under Anwar's leadership, the unity government is currently in its most stable state because its internal politics are stable and public support remains status quo, even with a slight increase of one or two per cent.
"Moving forward, considering all elements, the unity government is strong, enjoying widespread support and witnessing an increase in approval ratings," he said at the PKR National Congress 2023 at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC) yesterday.
Rafizi's viewpoint was evidently contrasting with the findings of a recent survey by a prominent political research firm, the Merdeka Centre.
The Merdeka Centre's study revealed until last Oct, 48 per cent of respondents were dissatisfied with Anwar's performance in administering the unity government.
Labelling the firm's survey findings as not earth-shattering, Rafizi said that Anwar's achievements were better compared to several previous prime ministers after a year of holding the reins of administration in Putrajaya.
Behind Rafizi's defence of Anwar and the unity government, did it indirectly suggest that PKR was in a state of denial?
Universiti Sains Malaysia Centre for Public Policy Studies lecturer Professor Datuk Dr Sivamurugan Pandian rejected the idea and asserted that any internal study conducted by a political party Was valid as a reference if it was based on consistent samples and data.
"Perhaps Rafizi could share the findings of PKR's internal study and if any independent body conducts similar studies, the data can be shared for comparison.
"Each study complements the others and can serve as a guide, although the acceptance of survey findings may vary," Sivamurugan told Sinar Premium.
Acknowledging the need to scrutinise studies based on their methodology and sample acquisition, he said that usually, any survey findings would indicate either a status quo or a decline, rarely an increase, owing to issues, perceptions, and whether party membership influences the survey's findings.
"The crucial aspect is continual research to identify what needs to be maintained, discarded, or improved," he said.
Accept the facts
However, Kedah Universiti Teknologi Mara Political Science Lecturer Firdaus Ramli said that any findings from a study should be accepted positively by government leaders, even if they might not align with individual desires.
"Looking at the process and methodology employed by Merdeka Center, it adheres to the standards used by firms or agencies measuring public opinion.
"Although survey findings may not entirely reflect the actual situation in the field, they remain relevant and useful as a reference for Anwar and the government in formulating national policies," he said.
He noted this was because the survey findings also indicated public concerns regarding the uncertain economic growth and management of the country.
"Madani as the primary framework of government policy needs to be refined and translated into economic aspects so that its results are felt by the people," he said.
Firdaus also acknowledged concerns that the unity government might detach from the actual reality of political sentiments among the people if survey findings from any research firm were adamantly rejected.
"When findings of a scientific study that do not favour individual interests or are questioned are outright rejected, the concerned party will not address the main issues raised within it.
"If this attitude persists and involves all members of the unity government's administration, it will only distance the government from the people and reality.
"This is indirectly leading to the rejection of the ruling party by the people as the next general election approaches," he said.
Reveal Research Findings
For Universiti Malaya Public Administration and Development Studies Department Political Science Lecturer Dr Mohammad Tawfik Yaakub, PKR's internal survey needed to be revealed to the public if they wanted to gain the people's trust.
"Rafizi needs to disclose the survey's methodology and respondent backgrounds," he said.
He emphasised that Rafizi also needed to be honest and not hurt people through statements and studies that contradicted the reality of life.
"Although survey findings may not satisfy everyone, they have credibility in terms of respondent sampling, data collection, and study results.
"The people are anxious about the economic uncertainty, rising prices of goods in the market, and high cost of living.
"Do not challenge data and facts for political gain," he stated.