Majority of M’sians unaware of 1MDB controversy

Those who lacked awareness of 1MDB were mostly low-income voters who had no internet access and who made up the majority of voters, said Merdeka Center. Photo: Reuters | KUALA LUMPUR, 17-Apr-2015 — Sixty-nine per cent of Malaysians are unaware of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) controversy, and nearly half of them are not confident of the government’s handling of the matter, according to a poll by opinion research firm Merdeka Center and business radio channel BFM.

The poll result released yesterday showed that nearly three-quarters of Malaysians did not even know the role played by the state-owned strategic investment fund.

Despite that, 49 per cent of the respondents expressed their lack of confidence in the government’s handling of the 1MDB issue.

“In our opinion, the lack of awareness of the 1MDB issue stems from the relatively complex nature of the issue as well as the lack of coverage in the mainstream media,” said a press release which accompanied the poll result.

“Malaysian political history is awash with past instances of alleged financial scandals over which a considerable amount of public funds were committed towards their rehabilitation,” it added.

Merdeka Center said it found that those who lacked awareness of 1MDB were mostly low-income voters who had no internet access and who made up the majority of voters.

Malay voters were the least informed about 1MDB’s role, with 81 per cent of Malay respondents saying they were unaware.

One in three respondents — mostly people from the upper-income households, ethnic Chinese voters and those from the private sector and business owners — said they were affected by the 1MDB scandal.

The survey polled 1,011 registered voters between March 12 and 27 last month. The respondents comprised 60 per cent Malays, 30 per cent ethnic Chinese, and 10 per cent ethnic Indians.

Prime Minister Najib Razak last month ordered the Auditor-General and Public Accounts Committee to investigate 1MDB, amid growing demands for explanations over the firm’s allegedly opaque investment decisions and over its amassing a reported RM42 billion (S$15.6 billion) debt pile.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Abdul Wahid Omar said this week that the 1MDB’s failure to generate cash flow against its huge debts is a concern.

“Unless it can generate cash flow, it will not be sustainable,” he said.