Out of 53 Felda parliament seats surveyed, only seven now showed an increment of votes for the ruling coalition

KUALA LUMPUR: Barisan Nasional had long held total control over all parliament seats in the Malay-dominated Felda settlements nationwide but that control is swiftly ebbing away, according to a survey conducted by the opposition-linked Invoke Malaysia.

Out of the 53 parliament seats in Felda settlements surveyed, only seven now showed an increment of votes for the ruling coalition, revealed the survey conducted by the PKR affiliated NGO.

Five of these seven seats were contested by non-Malay Pakatan Harapan candidates from DAP and PKR in the last GE, said Invoke director Rafizi Ramli in a statement.

This indicates that the swing in the votes may move to the opposition when Malay candidates are named in these seven seats.

The finding was based on a survey conducted by Invoke Malaysia to gauge the support level for political parties using big data analytics.

According to the survey, the seven Felda seats showing support for BN are Teluk Intan, Kulai, Bentong, Raub, Segamat, Tanjung Malim and Bagan Datuk.

Of these, Raub and Kulai seats were won by DAP candidates in the last general election, and the remainder five by BN.

The incumbent for Bentong is MCA president Liow Tiong Lai while MIC president Dr S Subramaniam is the Segamat MP. Another BN component party Gerakan’s president Mah Siew Keong is the MP for Teluk Intan, and Bagan Datuk’s MP is Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

The survey also showed a drop in the support for BN in all parliamentary seats contested by Malay Pakatan candidates in the last GE.

The drop was prevalent even in seats with three-cornered tussle such as Padang Terap which saw a drop of 24%. Even Pekan held by Prime Minister Najib Razak saw a sudden drop of support by 23.9%.

Invoke’s survey found the drop in support due to three reasons.

First was the long and ongoing crisis within Felda since the end of 2016 which has left Felda settlers disgruntled.

Second was the national level scandals overshadowing the Najib administration, and thirdly was the worsening rise in cost of things nationwide.

Rafizi also noted that the findings were based on survey conducted prior to the latest boardroom tussle affecting Felda Global Ventures which saw its chairman Isa Samad being moved out while four other top officials facing corruption probe.

He added that if the sentiments displayed by the Felda settlers remained the same as GE14 approaches, there was an opportunity for a change of federal government after the elections.