By LIM MUN FAH
Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily
Opinion polls before an election have always been a political thermometer in democratic countries. Polls can be conducted by political parties, media, universities or non-political organisations. However, the accuracy and credibility of the polls depend on the background of the poll organiser, the scope and the object of the study, as well as the fairness of the method used.
To put it simple, polls involve objectivity and fairness. If it is strongly affected by a political party or the purpose of manipulating politics is prioritised, its accuracy and credibility will then be greatly reduced.
In Malaysia, polls have not even been popularised yet, let alone to be called mature. It is also why, every time when a so-called poll result was released, members of the general public were quite indifferent, or even suspicious. The result of a recent poll on Pakatan Rakyat's states conducted by three scholars has also been inevitably questioned.
It was reported that the scholars each conducted their own studies but their conclusions were the same, namely the BN would win the next general election and stay in power.
I do not doubt the possibility of that. However, I have questions about the method used and attitudes of the scholars in their "academic researches".
Everyone may predict the general election result based on the principle of the freedom of speech. I also believe that despite the unprecedented challenges, the BN still has a higher change in winning the next general election, compared to the Pakatan Rakyat. Of course, it is only my personal prediction based on the current political situation, without involving an opinion poll. Therefore, it is very subjective. I might have guessed it right, and I might have guessed it wrong.
The three scholars represent the academia. The people have higher expectations on them because of their academic statuses and the university they represent. As university academics, they are expected to publish election analyses and study results based on authentic data and the study must be comprehensive and carefully conducted.
However, it is disappointing as the polling result this time showed only data of two states. One of the scholars explained that they could not analyse the other two states due to insufficient data. In other words, they drew a conclusion based only on the polling results of two states. Isn't it not rigorous enough, and even a bit trifling?
Different polls always come out with different results. Polls conducted in different areas and respondents' races also affect the results. A poll conducted in Penang might show a strong support for the Pakatan Rakyat, but the situation might be exactly the opposite in another state. Similarly, the tendencies of Malay and Chinese voters might also be totally different.
Therefore, are polls accurate? Are they politically manipulated or independent and objective? Sometimes, it is really a test for our wisdom!