Malaysia Leader Maintains High Approval Rating on Virus Handling

A screen displays an image of Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photographer: Samsul Said/Bloomberg | 02-Sept-2020 – The approval rating for Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin remained high, as more than 90% of people were satisfied with how the government responded to the pandemic.

Support for the premier was sustained through months of virus-induced movement curbs and an economic contraction while his overall approval rating eased to 69% in August, from 74% in June and July, according to pollster Merdeka Center. His Perikatan Nasional alliance was viewed positively by 51% of respondents, twice what the opposition coalition received.

Muhyiddin was appointed prime minister by the king after he and several lawmakers defected from the government. His turbulent rise to power prompted his administration to be labeled a “back-door government” and led to calls for a fresh election by political parties from both sides of the divide. The premier currently controls a razor-thin majority in parliament.

Still, the survey results show that support for the prime minister is nearly double what his predecessors enjoyed during their final month in power. Mahathir Mohamad’s approval rating was at 37% in February when he stepped down, while Najib Razak’s was at 38% in the month before Mahathir ousted him at the 2018 general election.

Muhyiddin is most popular among the country’s biggest group, the ethnic Malays, according to the pollster. Nine out of 10 Malay and Bumiputera respondents gave him the thumbs up, while 57% of them agreed with the court’s guilty verdict for Najib over his role in the 1MDB scandal.

The survey involved a random sample of 3,415 registered voters across the country with an estimated margin of error of 1.68%, according to the Merdeka Center.