Saturday, May 19, 2007

Analysts 'not buying' poll results

Thursday, March 15, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Analysts have questioned the results of a survey of 6,000 Jakartans who are registered to vote in the gubernatorial election in August, saying many of the questions were leading and designed to elicit the desired response.

The results of the survey -- which was conducted by the recently established Center for Policy Analysis and Strategic Development (Puskaptis) -- were released Tuesday at a press conference also attended by political analysts and celebrities.

They showed security and public order were at the top of voters' priority list.

"Considering their number one concern is security, Jakartans would like to see a military man leading the city, supported by a civilian who understands administrative issues," Husin Yazid, the center's director, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

Sixty percent of respondents said they would vote for Agum Gumelar -- the only candidate from a military background -- 25 percent for Deputy Governor Fauzi Bowo and 15 percent for retired police general Adang Darajatun.

The overall opinion of legislator and former environment minister Sarwono Kusumaatmaja was negative, while economist Faisal Basri was seen by respondents as being "more suited to the position of deputy governor".

But Ikrar Nusa Bakti from the National Institute of Science (LIPI), who attended the press conference, said the public needed to be aware of who commissioned the survey, as "push polls", which are designed to alter public opinion, were not uncommon in election season.

When asked by the Post, Husin said he established the center in late 2004, mentioning Prijono Tjiptoherjanto, a former secretary to both former vice president Hamzah Haz and Vice President Jusuf Kalla, as influential in the center's activities.

Ikrar said changing the wording of key questions could also yield different results.

"A poll's reliability depends on how the data is collected, how the questions are worded and whether the sample is skewed," he said in a telephone interview.

Ahmad, who was also at the conference, asked whether the questions were designed to elicit extended or fixed responses.

"Were they (respondents) put in the position where they could only choose from a select list of candidates?"

Some of the questions may have been designed to prompt a positive response to the idea of having a military figure as governor, Purba Hutapea from the National Institute of Administration (LAN) suggested.

He said while media attention improved a candidate's prospects, popularity was not a good way of measuring a candidate's capability or potential.

"It should be about whether the candidates can create jobs, not whether they are celebrities," he said, referring to actor Rano Karno, who is among the possible candidates for vice governor.

According to the poll, second on voters' priority list was population control, followed by flood protection -- inclusive of water and land use -- in third place.

Transportation issues were a fourth priority, followed by waste disposal. In sixth place was health, education and public service issues.

The survey, which used multistage random sampling, was carried out from March 2-8 in 266 subdistricts. (02).

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