KUALA LUMPUR, MARCH 5 – Barisan Nasional (BN) will increase its majority in Merlimau after a disorganised PAS campaign was overrun by an aggressive BN, a local research centre said today.

However, the ILHAM centre said that the ruling coalition has failed to gain the confidence of Chinese who make up over a fifth of the 10,679 voters here.

“The strength and aggression of the united BN machinery in exploiting the mainstream media and both state and federal government resources was too much for PAS,” it said in a report on tomorrow’s polls.

It added that its field research found that “PAS’s presence is only to challenge but not to achieve victory.”Having surveyed the opinions of 423 voters here, the centre added that BN has been on the offensive and stressed on the livelihoods of the electorate with regards to social security and election promises.

The report said that although Roslan Ahmad will increase Umno’s 2,154 majority from 2008, it will not be from non-Malay voters.

“BN is still unable to gain the confidence of Chinese voters to support it as the DAP machinery has campaigned consistently for PAS,” the centre said.

Ilham Cenre said that although the parties were a bigger factor than the candidates, Roslan was more popular with voters than his opponent Yuhaizat Abdullah.

It found that 80.8 per cent of respondents were familiar with the local Umno leader against just 55.8 per cent for the PAS candidate who was also seen by 42.6 per cent of those surveyed as not being a credible candidate.

It added that the strength of Chief Minister Datuk Seri Ali Rustam was a significant factor despite a tarnished image nationally.

The majority of respondents also said they viewed BN’s 1 Malaysia campaign positively.

Merlimau goes to the polls tomorrow where 6,935 Malays, 2,218 Chinese and 1,510 Indians are eligible to vote.

The by-election was called after Umno’s assemblyman here, Datuk Mohamed Hidhir Abu Hanson, passed away on January 20.

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