Poll on Putrajaya’s handling of MH370 reflects public perception, says Merdeka Center – By Eileen Ng

The Malaysian Insider | 22-Apr-2014 – A recent survey which showed that only 26% of 1,029 respondents believed that Putrajaya had been truthful about the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 saga is an indication of the public’s perception on the way the government is handling the tragedy, says pollster Merdeka Center.

Responding to acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein’s dismissal of the poll’s results, Merdeka Center director Ibrahim Suffian said while Putrajaya might be doing its best to handle the tragedy, the numerous conspiracy theories as well as the slow release of information from the authorities had contributed to the negative perception.

“This is a media-driven issue and there is no way the public will know anything beyond what’s reported by the media and in social media.

“The results of the survey are reflective of what’s on the public’s minds. It might not be reflective of the truth, perhaps, but it is reflective of their perception, driven by the sources of their information,” said Ibrahim.

The survey found that 26% of respondents believed that the government was being truthful, while 54% said the government had been hiding the truth about flight MH370.

Out of the 1,029 respondents polled, 54% said Putrajaya was not transparent in releasing information about the Boeing 777-200ER aircraft which vanished from the radar en route to Beijing on March 8 with 239 people on board.

The plane was inexplicably diverted and is now believed to have crashed in the remote Indian Ocean. A multination search and rescue effort is under way and so far, no trace of the wreckage has been found.

In dismissing the survey results as purely speculative and irresponsible, Hishammuddin had said that the opinion poll was not true and did not represent the views of the majority of Malaysians, adding that the people had wanted the government to continue “and we have done so with friends from all over the world”.

“There is a small group of people who may be cynical about how we are going to move forward, but the truth will always prevail. We have nothing to hide,” he was quoted as saying at a press conference on Saturday.

Ibrahim said the belief that the government was hiding something with regards to the tragedy is higher among those aged 40 and below, as these people were the ones who are constantly connected to the Internet.

“There are a lot of conspiracy theories and speculations on the Internet on the missing plane and these are widely shared, so it does influence public perception.”

In explaining the methodology of the survey, Ibrahim said it was conducted via telephone among random samples structured along age, ethnicity and gender.

“The poll was conducted the same way like we conduct our previous polls, where the respondents reflect the typical cross section of the public in Peninsular Malaysia. It also represented the urban and rural distribution.” – April 22, 2014.


Treat surveys with caution

The Sun Daily Online | 01-Apr-2014, – MERDEKA Center’s recent survey is insightful and shouldn’t be dismissed by those who disagree with its conclusions. Nevertheless, as American politicians have discovered, all opinion polls should be treated with circumspection – as just an indicator of voters’ current views.

Furthermore, because questions asked by pollsters often require either a “yes” or “no” answer, this could gloss over responses that are more nuanced. Including the “yes, but …” into either category could distort the overall finding.

According to Merdeka Center, its latest survey showed 56% of respondents were dissatisfied with the government’s handling of the economy while the satisfied segment comprised only 33%.

Additionally, four issues that require the federal government’s urgent attention are corruption, inflation, safety and security issues as well as affordable housing.
Confined to Peninsular Malaysia, the 1,005 respondents polled by Merdeka Center comprised 60% Malays, 31% Chinese and 9% Indians – a demographic similar to that of the country.

Among those surveyed, the three largest age segments were those aged 31 to 40 years who accounted for 30% of respondents, those between 41 and 50 years (24%) and those between 21 and 30 years (20%). This means individuals below 40 made up half of the respondents.

That 65% of respondents have internet access also suggests this demographic group lives in urban areas.

A heavy weightage of urbanites and the young may explain one curious disconnect. Those who are less well-off cited corruption as a major concern. This is puzzling as they are less likely to have the means to pay bribes.

Equally mystifying, although the cost of living is one of four major concerns of respondents, those who earned a monthly income of less than RM1,500 were happier with the government’s economic performance compared with their higher-paid counterparts.

“Perception towards the government improved the most among rural voters and those living in households earning under RM1,500 per month,” Merdeka Center suggested. “In our opinion, the improvements could be attributed to the BRIM cash transfer payments to 5.4 million recipients nationwide which began at the end of February and through March 2014.”

While the BRIM payments may explain the government’s higher favourable rating among rural folk, it would be unwise for political leaders to assume cash disbursements can be relied on continually to secure political support. More worrying is another statistic.

Although 49% of those working for the government and for government-linked corporations (GLCs) were satisfied with the government’s handling of the economy, this is marginally higher than the 46% that were dissatisfied.

Additionally, the gap between the two groups is just 3% – close to the survey’s estimated margin of error of 3.09%.

In contrast, detailed analysis of respondents’ perception towards Barisan Nasional show only 40% of civil servants and GLC employees are happy with the federal government – much lower than the 45% who are dissatisfied or angry.

Regardless of the mixed message these two sets of data present, this statistic is important. If BN cannot rely on civil servants and GLC employees to provide the base of electoral support, is there another growing bloc of voters it can count on to secure victory in the next general election?

Ironically, if the economy continues to expand, BN’s electoral support base, as the Merdeka Center’s poll suggests, – those less well-off, living in rural areas and who don’t have internet access – will continue to shrink.

Because the survey was carried out from March 7 to 20, Merdeka Center believes issues such as Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s conviction for sodomy and declining racial relations could have influenced respondents.

Like all pollsters, a major challenge for the Merdeka Center is this: can it identify turning points in voter perception?

One event that underscores the limitations of opinion polls is Barack Obama’s re-election as US president in November 2012.

In the months leading up to the November 2012 election, newspapers harped on the sluggish American economy, in particular continuing high unemployment, and Obama’s failure to effect change – the platform that won him an unprecedented victory as the first African-American president four years earlier.

On the eve of polling in November 2012, among likely voters, Gallup found Obama’s approval rating in handling the US economy was just 42%. In response to a question whether Obama deserve to be re-elected, Gallup found 51% of respondents said he did not.

Based on its findings, Gallup predicted a close fight while other pollsters indicated the Republican challenger Mitt Romney would win.

Strenuous efforts to lift the turnout rate among key Democratic constituencies – women and minorities – plus a targeted campaign to win critical electoral states like Ohio – coupled with Romney’s complacency earned Obama a decisive victory in the electoral college and popular vote.

As the name suggests, opinion polls are opinions, not cast-iron predictions.

Opinions expressed in this article are the personal views of the writer and should not be attributed to any other organisation she is connected with. She can be contacted at siokchoo@thesundaily.com

Growing dissatisfaction with PM, survey shows

Malaysiakini.com | 01-Apr-2014 – A growing number of Malaysians are dissatisfied with Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s leadership, according to a survey by independent pollster Merdeka Centre.

Its survey showed that 44 percent of the 1,005 respondents, surveyed between March 7 and March 20 are dissatisfied with Najib’s leadership, up four percent from December.

Despite this, Najib’s approval rating remains unchanged at 52 percent, which is an all-time low.

This is because the number of those who were unsure or had refused to respond to the question had gone down.

At 44 percent, the level of dissatisfaction against Najib is the highest since Merdeka Centre first tracked his performance in May 2009, a month after he took office.

It is likely driven by concerns over the economic situation, followed by crime, racial issues and political issues.

Most of those surveyed believe that corruption is the top-most issue to be addressed.

Despite Najib’s dismal ratings, more people surveyed said they are happy with the government and the BN.

While 42 percent said they are “happy” with the government, up four percent from December, another 38 percent are happy with BN, an increase of three percent.

“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,” Merdeka Centre said in a statement today.

BR1M – or Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia – may have raised happiness levels, but pessimism over the nation’s direction continues to grow.

Since June 2013 – a month after the 13th general election – fewer and fewer believe that Malaysia is heading in the right direction.

In March, only 38 percent of those surveyed believed Malaysia is going the right way, compared to 54 percent last June, 49 percent last August and 42 percent last December.

Those who feel that the nation is headed the wrong way remained at slightly under half of those surveyed in 12 states and 165 parliamentary constituencies.

‘Indians in a state of disillusionment’

Interestingly, compared to other communities, Indian Malaysians appear to be in pronounced headlong disillusionment over Malaysia’s direction.

Only 30 percent of Indians believe Malaysia is moving in the right direction, a deep plunge from 52 percent in December and 63 percent in August.

A huge 63 percent believe Malaysia is going the wrong way.

The dip was not as steep among Malay and Chinese respondents. On the whole, however, more Malays think the nation is heading the right direction. Only 33 percent think the nation is going the wrong way.

Most of those surveyed are employed in the private sector and earn below RM3,000 a month.

However, it is noted that more civil servants or employees of government-linked companies and those who are not formally employed are happy with the government.

Most – or 63 percent – of private sector employees take a dim view of the government, while those who are self-employed are split down the middle on their perception of the state.


Survey shows 50% of Malaysians unhappy with Putrajaya’s handling of MH370 crisis – By Elizabeth Zachariah

Media members outside the Equatorial Hotel in Bangi, Putrajaya, where relatives of passengers from missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 are staying. A survey by Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research shows that 50% of Malaysians are unhappy with Putrajaya’s handling of the crisis. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, April 1, 2014.

The Malaysian Insider | 01-Apr-2014 – As Malaysia continues to face mounting criticism over the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 – for instance, its lack of transparency and conflicting statements – a survey has shown that 50% of Malaysians are unhappy with Putrajaya’s handling of the crisis.

The survey, carried out by the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research, revealed that only 43% were satisfied with the way Putrajaya was dealing with the issue.

The results were based on a survey done on 1,005 respondents – 60% Malay, 31% Chinese and 9% Indians – through phone interviews from March 7 to 20.

However, approval towards Putrajaya’s handling of the incident varies distinctly according to racial lines.

But 63% of Malay respondents expressed satisfition with the handling compared with 30% who said they were not.

Malaysia has come under heavy fire for miscommunication, and the failure of search and rescue efforts for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, particularly from China. The incident has now entered its fourth week. Out of the 239 people on MH370, 154 were Chinese.

The families of Chinese passengers have continued to accuse Malaysia of mismanaging the search and withholding information even as authorities concluded that the plane had crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.

Opposition politicians have also condemned Putrajaya for the plane’s disappearance and have repeatedly called for a Parliamentary Select Commitee (PSC) to investigate the matter.

MH370 went missing on March 8 shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport bound for Beijing.

The search for the plane was first focused in the South China Sea where the plane was thought to have been but it was later determined that the plane made a deliberate turn back and flew over Peninsular Malaysia.

Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri was criticised after he said that the military did not respond when it saw an unidentified flight on its military radar as they had assumed that the air traffic control in Subang had ordered the plane to do a turn back.

A day later, he issued a terse two paragraph statement admitting that he had assumed that the air traffic control asked the lost flight to turn back, adding his assumption was not accurate.

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had hit out at Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for failing to “be seen to be hands on” in the incident which has captured global attention.

Today, Pakatan Rakyat MPs were upset over acting transport minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein’s decision to attend the Asean Defence Ministers meeting in Hawaii, instead of briefing them tonight on MH370.

Describing it as the “height of irresponsibility and an utter contempt of parliament”, DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang (pic) said they wanted Hishammuddin to brief them, and not his officers. – April 1, 2014.

Malaysians are even more dissatisfied with Najib now, says Merdeka Center

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.

Poll: Majority unhappy at gov’t handling of MH370

Malaysiakini.com | 01-Apr-2014 – Majority of Malaysians are unhappy at the manner in which the government is handling the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370 crisis, according to a survey by pollster Merdeka Center.

The survey found 50 percent of respondents to be dissatisfied at the crisis management, while 43 percent said they were satisfied.

The question was posed to 513 respondents between the period of March 13 to March 20.

However, approval towards the government’s handling of the incident vary distinctly according to racial lines.

Majority of Chinese and Indian respondents were dissatisfied, at 74 percent and 59 percent respectively. Only 18 percent of Chinese and 36 percent of Indian polled said they were satisfied.

In contrast, 63 percent of Malay respondents said they were satisfied with the handling compared to 30 percent which said they were not.

Younger group mostly dissatisfied, polls find

When broken down further, the poll finds that among a demography where the respondents are younger, have higher income and internet access, the majority are dissatisfied, while the result is reversed for the opposite demography.

For example, in the age group of 21-30, only 35 percent are satisfied at the Malaysian government handling of MH370, compared to 56 percent who are dissatisfied.

Likewise, for the 31-40 age group, only 36 percent are satisfied compared to 58 percent who are not.

But for age group 41-50, 51-60 and above 60, 51 percent, 53 percent and 44 percent respectively express their satisfaction with the government. This is compared to 44 percent, 41 percent and 44 percent respectively said otherwise.

For those with Internet access, 56 percent are dissatisfied compared to 38 percent who are satisfied while of those without internet access, 54 percent are satisfied compared to 39 percent who are not.

Sentiments according to income group are as follow: Below RM1,500 (58 percent happy, 34 percent unhappy), RM1,500-RM3,000 (52 percent happy, 43 percent unhappy), RM3,000-RM5,000 (29 percent happy, 60 percent unhappy) and above RM5,000 (27 percent happy, 68 percent unhappy).

Merdeka Center executive director Ibrahim Suffian, when contacted about the racial divide on the issue, said this could be due to the different language of the news they consume.

“Perhaps it is strongly influenced by media reporting of the issue.

“Chinese and English-language reporting online seems to be more critical (of the issue) while Malay-language reporting seems to be more sympathetic towards the government,” he told Malaysiakini in an email.

He added this trend is also reflected in various other issues.

Najib’s approval rating takes a plunge, Merdeka Center survey reveals

Najib enjoyed an approval rating of 65% in June 2009, shortly after taking over from Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. – The Malaysian Insider, December 18, 2013.

The Malaysian Insider | 18-Dec-2013 – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s approval rating has taken the lowest dip since assuming office in 2009, declining to 52% in December, from 62% in August, a Merdeka Center survey has found.

Two months after replacing Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as prime minister, Najib had a 65% approval rating.

The pollster said the survey was conducted between December 4 and 12, 2013, after the reduction of fuel subsidies in September 2013, and the tabling of the 2014 national budget during which the government announced the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 2015.

The survey also showed that Najib’s drop in popularity cuts across all races, with the most significant decline being among the Indians, with a drop from 76% to 57%.

Among the Chinese, the approval rate stands at 21%, after a 15 percentage point loss, while a seven percentage point drop, from 73% to 66%, was recorded among the Malays.

Merdeka Center said in a statement that concerns over the economy, particularly rising costs and inflation, rose to its highest ever level, up to 67% of all respondents.

The survey found that 55% of Peninsular Malaysia voters said that they did not  quite understand how GST will affect them.

Additionally, 54% of respondents reported that they did not believe in statements by government leaders about the country’s economic situation.

The number of those expressing “happiness” with the government has also declined to 38%, compared to 50% in August 2013, showing a significant reduction in positive attitude from across major ethnic groups.

Merdeka Center also released data from previously unreleased opinion surveys conducted in June 2013 and August 2013.

The latest survey, which coincided with the recent Umno general assembly, polled 1,005 registered voters comprising 60% Malays, 31% Chinese and 9% Indians through telephone interviews in the preferred language of the respondents.

They were selected randomly, representing Malaysians of different races and genders.

The June 2013 survey had 1006 respondents while 1008 were polled for the August 2013 survey. – December 18, 2013.

Deficit-cutting measures take toll on Najib’s popularity, survey shows – By Zurairi Ar

In the survey by Merdeka Center, the PM lost popularity across all ethnic communities, but was hardest hit among the Indians, for whom his approval fell from 76 per cent to 57 per cent now. — Reuters pic

The Malay Mail Online | KUALA LUMPUR, 18-Dec-2013 — A series of painful measures to trim Malaysia’s chronic budget deficit has hit Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s popularity hard, according to a survey by independent pollster Merdeka Center that showed his approval sliding to a new low of 52 per cent in December.

Conducted this month and supplemented by previously unused data from June to September, the survey took place during a time when Putrajaya rolled out a fuel price hike, confirmed the long-delayed Goods and Services Tax (GST), eliminated price support for sugar, and announced an increase to power tariffs next year — all of which have angered Malaysians already struggling with rising cost of living.

News is also swirling now of extensive toll rate increases next year.

Sixty-seven per cent of respondent cited worsening costs and inflation as their main grouses.

In the survey, Najib also lost popularity across all ethnic communities, but was hardest hit among the Indians, for whom his approval fell from 76 per cent to 57 per cent now.

The PM’s approval also slid further among the Chinese community, coming in at 21 per cent after a loss of 15 percentage points.

More from Malay community also joined in the disapproval, with Najib getting the nod from 66 per cent of the group, down from 73 per cent previously.

Malaysia embarked on a series of subsidy cuts in September, starting with raising the pump price of RON95 petrol and diesel by RM0.20/L starting September 3, to RM2.10 and RM2.00 per litre respectively.

Postponed prior to Election 2013, the so-called subsidy rationalisation programmed was resumed after ratings firm Fitch slashed Malaysia’s sovereign debt outlook from “Stable” to “Negative” in July.

In Budget 2014, Putrajaya finally confirmed the 2015 rollout of the GST and said it would stop subsidising sugar by the current 34 sen per kg, in a move that may cause cascading price hikes.

Starting next year, the electricity tariff in the peninsula will also increase by 14.9 per cent or 4.99 sen to 38.53 sen for every kilowatt per hour (kWh), and 5 sen for Sabah and Labuan.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said his administration does not adopt a populist approach but always endeavoured to expand the national economy.

Najib’s approval ratings were at 57 per cent when an earlier poll was conducted just after the May general elections.

The prime minister’s ratings later rose up to 62 per cent, but have tumbled in the latest survey.

A total of 1,005 eligible voters across all states in Peninsula Malaysia were interviewed via telephone for the Merdeka Center survey.

– See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/deficit-cutting-measures-take-toll-on-najibs-popularity-survey-shows#sthash.yAC1bNWT.dpuf

Merdeka Center