Majority of Malaysians feel powerless, survey finds – By Adil Zalkapli

 Malaysians in general felt they did not have any part to play when it comes to govenrment policy. — file pic

The Malaysian Insider | KUALA LUMPUR, 09-July-2010 — A disconnect between the government and the public has resulted in a majority of Malaysians feeling powerless in bringing about change in the country, a new poll of voters has found.

A recent survey by the independent Merdeka Center showed that the majority of Malaysians felt that they were incapable of bringing positive reforms to the country.

According to the survey conducted from January to April this year, 66 per cent of some 3,000 respondents believed that they had no say over issues raised in the survey.

Issues touched on by the survey included those such as national unity, integrity, democratic participation, and affirmative action.

The outcome of the survey suggests that the Najib administration has yet to effectively convince the public on its key policies.

Since taking over the government in April last year, Datuk Seri Najib Razak has laid down various ambitious reform plans including the National Key Results Areas (NKRA), which aims to, among other targets, eradicate corruption and forge national unity.

Merdeka Center director Ibrahim Suffian speculated that the sense of being powerless could be the result of government’s failure to conduct programmes that reflect the wishes of the public.

“A lot of things that the government have been doing might not reflect what the people want,” Ibrahim told The Malaysian Insider.

“Despite being able to vote, the people do not see how they can exert influence on the leadership. In many places, they still feel disconnected from the leaders,” he added.

Ibrahim said the survey reflected the wishes for greater public consultation on public policy formulation.

The poll outcome also showed that the majority of Malaysians were sceptical about government spending ,with 53 per cent of respondents believing that public funds were not being spent prudently.

About 63 per cent of the respondents also believed that government assistance would not reach the needy.

The survey also revealed that 72 per cent of youths aged 19 to 24 were not interested in politics, while only 52 per cent of respondents above 50 took an interest.

However, democracy was not an issue that resonated among Malaysians, with just 27 per cent of the respondents listing “making the country more democratic” as the most important change they wanted to see in the country.

Improving the education system was the second most important issue, with 20 per cent of the respondents wishing for it to become world class.