IT isn’t likely that Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi will be the Prime Minister if Barisan Nasional wins the general election. He is a seasoned politician, and he knows the game well.
The Umno president knows where he stands. While he has the power to sign the candidacy papers for Barisan candidates, he also remains the weakest link.
I am sure he has access to all the findings from the various sources, including those from Barisan and Umno.
Since campaigning for the 15th General Election started, the Opposition has used the narrative that a vote for Barisan is equivalent to endorsing Ahmad Zahid, who still faces charges of corruption, as the next PM.
Within Umno, there will also be the disgruntled ones who have been dropped as candidates, and these are probably Ahmad Zahid’s worst enemies now.
But many may have forgotten that last month, almost all the 191 Umno divisions passed a motion to support Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob as PM.
This motion was in addition to an earlier unanimous Umno supreme council decision to name Ismail Sabri as the Umno candidate for PM if Barisan wins the general election.
The party has also reiterated that Ismail Sabri will remain Barisan’s poster boy, and as Ahmad Zahid himself has said, Barisan’s stand will not change if the coalition succeeds in getting to administer Putrajaya.
Ahmad Zahid, a former deputy prime minister, has a tainted image even though he was recently freed of 40 corruption cases, but he still faces a string of others over the misappropriation of funds from charity outfit Yayasan Akalbudi.
In all surveys conducted separately by various groups, Ismail Sabri has come out stronger and higher than Ahmad Zahid, among respondents of all races and ages.
The Ilham Centre, which interviewed 1,622 people nationwide over two months, put Ismail Sabri on the number one spot for PM, followed by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Ahmad Zahid was the last of 10 names.
Another survey by Persatuan Penyelidik Negara and 02 Malaysia found that of the 12 names mentioned for PM, Anwar was at the top, followed by Ismail Sabri and Khairy Jamaluddin.
Ahmad Zahid was not among the names mentioned by any of the 1,105 respondents.
A survey of Chinese respondents by the Huayan Policy Institute and the Centre for Malaysian Chinese Studies put Anwar as the most popular choice, with Ahmad Zahid at the bottom of the list of 14 names.
Merdeka Center’s findings for leader ratings as of Oct 28 showed that 43% of respondents of all races were satisfied with Ismail Sabri, 46% with Muhyiddin, Anwar Ibrahim (34%), and Ahmad Zahid at 12%, again, at the last spot.
Even Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan obtained 32% of the vote.
Among the crucial Malay votes, Ismail Sabri finished on top with 58%, followed by Muhyiddin with 57%, Mohamad with 49%, Anwar with 26% and Ahmad Zahid with 16% at the last spot.
A comparison of the surveys also showed that the respondents picked Barisan as their first choice, especially among the Malays.
Merdeka Center found that 32% will vote for Barisan, 20% for Perikatan and 13% for Pakatan, with 29% undecided as of Oct 28.
For Persatuan Penyelidik and O2, 26% wanted Barisan, 17% wanted Perikatan and 39% wanted Pakatan as of Oct 10.
Among the Malays in Peninsular Malaysia, 35.7% said they would vote for Barisan, 28.9% for Perikatan and 25.5% for Pakatan, as of Oct 10.
Barisan is the top choice of Malays aged 41 and above with 38.3%, against Pakatan’s 30.5% and Perikatan’s 24.9%.
For those in the 31-40 age bracket, Barisan garnered 35.2%, Pakatan (24.5%) and Perikatan (30.1%), while for young respondents aged 18-30, 31.4% wanted Barisan, 30% wanted Pakatan and 20.7% wanted Perikatan.
Over the coming weeks, the campaigning will get hotter with more information being sent to us via social media.
Most of us will not have sufficient knowledge to pick the real narrative from the fake ones.
Old videos and pictures have also been recycled to suit the agenda of the campaigners.
But while Ismail Sabri isn’t the most attractive PM product, the fact is that he remains at the top spot in the popularity ratings, and his opponents are also breathing down his neck.
The key to winning the GE is to capture the votes of the Malay heartland, and with the determinant Malay votes split into Barisan, Pakatan and Perikatan, the non-Malays will now be the decider, especially those from Sabah and Sarawak.
But at the end of the day, let’s remember we are all Malaysians, and we will be the ones who decide for Malaysia.