The Malaysian Insider | 01-Apr-2014 – Malaysians’ dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak increased from 40% in December 2013 to 44% in March as Putrajaya faced heavy criticism over price hikes among other issues, according to a survey (see graphic below) by respected pollster Merdeka Center.
It also showed that Najib’s approval ratings remained unchanged at 52% last month compared with last December, while 49% thinks the country is moving in the wrong direction as opposed to 38% who think otherwise.
This comes after Najib’s government embarked on a series of subsidy cuts starting from September, leading to an increase in the prices of petrol, sugar and electricity.
The price hikes, however, have caused public anger, which culminated in an anti-price hike rally attended by tens of thousands of Malaysians at the Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur on New Year’s Eve.
In December, Najib’s approval ratings slid to an all-time low of 52% following the series of painful measures to trim Malaysia’s chronic budget deficit.
The survey is based on 1,005 respondents from Peninsular Malaysia, comprising 60% Malays, 31% Chinese and 9% Indians.
A whopping 70% of the Chinese respondents were not satisfied with Najib’s performance. In contrast, 65% of Malay and 59% Indian respondents were satisfied with the prime minister’s performance.
The respondents cited fighting corruption in the government and reducing wastage in government expenditure as the areas where they were the most dissatisfied with Najib’s performance.
Besides that, 57% believe that Najib had failed to understand the people’s burden in facing the rising cost of living.
The poll also revealed that the top four issues that the people feel need urgent government attention are corruption, inflation, safety and security issues, and affordable housing.
Also, 56% of the respondents said they were not satisfied with the government’s handling of the economy compared with 39% who are satisfied.
The Chinese formed the biggest group of respondents who were dissatisfied with the economy at 81%, followed by the Indian respondents (59%). The majority of Malay respondents (56%) were happy with Najib’s handling of the economy.
Merdeka Center noted that the percentage of respondents who expressed happiness with the government has increased from 38% in December 2013 to 42% in March.
“Perception towards the government improved the most among rural voters and those living in households earning under RM1,500 per month,” it said.
“In our opinion, the improvements could be attributed to the BR1M cash transfer payments to 5.4 million recipients nationwide which began at the end of February and through March 2014.”
The survey also showed that more civil servants, employees of government-linked companies and those who are not formally employed are more happy with the government compared with those in the private sector and who are self-employed.
Internet access also seemed to have played a part in the respondent’s feelings for the government as 56% of those with Internet access are unhappy with the government while only 34% of those without access are dissatisfied.
The survey also looked into the respondents’ perception of Barisan Nasional which showed that 52%, including 78% Chinese, 60% Indians and 38% of Malay repondents, were either dissatisfied or angry with the ruling coalition.
The survey was carried out from March 7 to 20 and issues, such as the conviction of opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for sodomy and declining racial relations are believed to have influenced respondents, Merdeka Center said. – April 1, 2014.