KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 27 — A Merdeka Centre survey DAP commissioned on Bentong found that the dropped incumbent Wong Tack lacked popular support, secretary-general Anthony Loke said.
The DAP leader told Malaysiakini in an interview that Wong had an overall approval rating of 30 per cent with constituents polled, which only rose to 38 per cent if solely considering Chinese voters.
Wong’s approval plunged to 19 per cent among Malay voters, but was high — 61 per cent — among Indians.
“We found out that our current incumbent is not that popular on the ground. This is something we only make public (because) we think there is a need to explain because Bentong has become quite contentious after we made the (candidate) announcement,” Loke was quoted as saying.
Yesterday, Loke announced Ketari assemblyman Young Syefura Othman, or Rara, as the party’s candidate for Bentong, replacing Wong who had been offered Cameron Highlands as an alternative but rejected this.
After Loke’s announcement, Wong said he could run as an independent to defend the seat he first won in 2013 on DAP’s ticket.
Aside from showing Wong’s low approval, Loke said the same survey also found Rara to enjoy higher support across the board, particularly among the Malays who gave her 68 per cent approval.
The poll also found the Bentong respondents open to supporting a candidate not of their own race, with 75 per cent saying there were prepared to do so.
This apparent colour-blindness was especially high among the Chinese and Indian respondents, at 96 per cent and 93 per cent, respectively.
Loke said the same findings were shared with Wong, who argued that they did not match his own observations.
However, Loke said he could not take Wong at his word when there was empirical data available that showed otherwise.
He added that he was disappointed to hear that Wong could contest against DAP because he was dropped, but said he would hold off on any disciplinary action until the latter follows through with the threat.
“The moment he (Wong) files that nomination paper, he will be dismissed as a DAP member,” he said, adding that it was only talk at the moment.
Wong rose to prominence on the back of his opposition to Australian mining firm Lynas Corp’s rare-earths processing plant in Pahang, and used it as his primary platform during the campaign for the 2013 general election to narrowly defeat the MCA president at the time, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
He defeated Liow again in 2018 to retain the seat, increasing his advantage over Liow to 2,032 votes.