Najib’s approval rating continues to drop

Malaysia Chronicle | 27-Feb-2013 – Public opinion pollster Merdeka Center has reported a drop in prime minister Najib Razak’s popularity, falling 2 percent since December last year to 61 percent as at January 2013.

Over the past 12 months, Najib’s popularity has steadily declined from 69 percent.

“The survey shows that satisfaction among Chinese and Indians respectively remain at 34 and 75 percent, but among Malays it has dropped 4 percent from 77 to 73 percent,” says the research centre.

The survey was carried out between January 23 and February 6, involving 1,021 voters, and reveals that voters’ rating of the government stands at 48 percent and Barisan Nasional at 45 percent.

“The survey also shows that there is a drop (of support) among the Malay respondents against the government and BN,” it adds.

59 percent of respondents are Malays, 32 percent Chinese and 9 percent Indians.


BN DEATH KNELL: Najib’s popularity plunges further to 61%, hit by ERODING MALAY SUPPORT –

Malaysia Chronicle | 26-Feb-2013 – Prime Minister Najib Razak’s popularity plunged another 2 percentage points to 61%, confirming the growing views that his political strategy has been heavily flawed, ceding the upper-hand to Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and his Pakatan Rakyat coalition as the country’s general election nears.

The 59-year-old Najib is now the least popular PM to lead the Umno-BN coalition into national polls, and this may yield Malaysia’s first-ever regime change if the Opposition is able to seize the day and win the federal government.

Najib is expected to dissolve Parliament within the next few weeks to pave the way for the 13th general election.

More damaging for Najib, the survey results are bound to increase the discontent and infighting within his Umno party and further weaken his ability to suppress rivals including Deputy prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and former premier Mahathir Mohamad.

Sharp drop in Malay satisfaction

According to the Merdeka Center, “several weeks away from the general election, a survey concluded among voters in Peninsular Malaysia in early February 2013 found that the Prime Minister’s approval rating had slipped further to 61% from 63% at the end of December 2012.

The survey found that while satisfaction among Chinese and Indian voters remained at 34% and 75% respectively, the sentiment among Malay voters had declined 4% from 77% to 73%.

The survey also detected movements in voter sentiments towards the government and the ruling Barisan Nasional party whereby 48% said they were “happy with the government” while 45% reported they were “happy with Barisan Nasional”. The survey also found declines from among Malay respondents towards the government and Barisan Nasional.”

Deepak , Musa allegations make an impact

The PM’s overall approval rating had only managed to improve 1 percentage point to 65% last November after he announced a populist and election goodies-filled Budget 2013, compared with 64% last May.

The January 23 to February 6 survey, which was funded internally by the Merdeka Center, aimed to gauge voters’ perceptions of issues in the run up to the 13th general election due soon. The Center says the results have a margin error of 3%.

The research house said the survey took place after the January 12 People’s Uprising rally backed by Anwar and PR leaders in Kuala Lumpur and amid the ongoing media coverage of the Sabah citizenship-for-votes royal inquiry.

Merdeka Center also noted that other issues forming the talking point to its survey included statements made by controversial businessman Deepak Jaikishan and former Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan against Najib, the government as well as the dispute over the use of the word “Allah”.

PM’s approval rating drops two points | 10-Jan-2013 – Just months before the 13th general election (GE13) is to take place, a survey found that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s popularity rating has dropped two points to 63 percent, from 65 percent last November.

“While satisfaction among Malay and Indian voters remained strong at 77 percent and 76 percent respectively, the sentiment among Chinese voters had dropped to 34 percent,” pollster Merdeka Centre said in a statement today.

Meanwhile, the level of dissatisfaction increased by one percentage point from 29 percent to 30 percent – the highest in over two years.

This is according to a phone poll carried out by Merdeka Centre in December last year, on a stratified random sampling of 1,018 registered voters comprising 59 percent Malay, 32 percent Chinese and 9 percent Indian respondents, selected based on ethnicity, gender and state of residence.

The survey also found that voters’ perception of the government remained lukewarm with 45 percent respondents happy with the government, while 47 percent of the respondents said that they were happy with the Barisan Nasional ruling coalition.

Merdeka Centre polled the respondents between Dec 15 and 28, last year to gauge voters’ perceptions of current developments in the country.

The poll took place just after the Umno general assembly,interviews and statements by businessperson Deepak Jaikishan and former chief of police Musa Hassan, as well as controversies over ‘Amanat Haji Hadi’ and use of the word ‘Allah’ by the non-Muslim community.

Support increased among youth

The pollsters found there were differences in views expressed between by the younger and the older generation, men and women, and between those of lower and higher income.

BN has the lowest support among those who are younger, with 34 percent of those between 21 to 30 indicating they were ‘dissatisfied’ – the highest among all the age group.

More women than men are ‘happy’ with BN. The same is true of those who are working in government/government-linked companies and the unemployed compared to those in private sector and self-employed.

Support for BN appears highest among the low income.

Previously it was reported that Najib’s rating rose by one percentlast November, following the tabling of the 2013 budget, compared to 64 percent recorded in June this year.

Last July, Merdeka Centre found Najib’s approval rating dropped one point from 65 percent in May to 64 percent after it found a significant drop in Malay and Indian satisfaction over his performance.

The independent pollsters found Malay respondents’ satisfaction of Najib’s performance was 75 percent, down four percent from May, while the figure was 69 percent for Indian respondents, down three percent.


BN needs to milk Najib’s popularity harder, say analysts – By Clara Chooi

The Malaysian Insider | KUALA LUMPUR, 02-Jan-2013 ― The Barisan Nasional (BN) must do more to cash in on Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s popularity as issues of the day could threaten their hold on Putrajaya, say analysts commenting on the latest Merdeka Center survey.

The analysts also noted the BN government’s approval remains low despite cash handouts and a raft of economic and legal reforms that Najib has introduced since taking power in 2009.

“On the whole, although there are those who say they are satisfied, they may not vote for BN because there are other issues at play during an election ― the political party, the individual candidate, the influence of the local ministers in the area and so on.

“Therefore, the good popularity rating could merely reflect the public’s agreement with Najib and his policies,” said Ibrahim Suffian from Merdeka Center, the independent pollster that conducted the latest survey released yesterday.

The Merdeka Center found that Najib’s ratings, while still relatively high, dipped slightly by two points to 63 per cent in the poll conducted late last month, from 65 per cent in November.

The survey found that while satisfaction among Malay and Indian voters remained strong at 77 per cent and 76 per cent respectively, the sentiment among Chinese voters had dropped to 34 per cent.

The survey also found that voters’ response towards the government remained lukewarm, with only 45 per cent of the respondents saying they were “happy with the government”.

Ibrahim also suggested the possibility of “cultural bias” among the different racial communities that were interviewed for the poll, saying the Malays and Indians were more conservative when it comes to speaking negatively about their nation’s leaders, while the Chinese are generally more outspoken.

“So I am pretty certain that just because the poll says that Najib has 77 per cent support of the Malays, it does not mean he will get 77 per cent of the Malay vote.

“The Indians, the Malay respondents… traditionally they tend not to be so openly negative about the ruling party leaders so there is a cultural bias there,” he said.

Universiti Teknologi Mara’s Prof Madya Shaharudin Badaruddin echoed Ibrahim’s views, saying the prime minister’s good standing among the Malay and Indian communities may not translate to votes in the coming polls.

He agreed that the rating of a person’s popularity is an individualistic matter and would not reflect the total voting trend of the election.

“You may vote for Najib, but it does not mean you want Umno,” he said.

Universiti Malaya (UM) political analyst Prof Datuk Mohamad Abu Bakar said the same, adding that the performance of an individual does not reflect the performance of the party this person represents.

He pointed out that the survey results may not be consistent until polling as issues that may crop up between now and then could affect the prime minister and BN’s popularity.

“So, depending on whether these new issues make him popular or not, one cannot say for sure whether his popularity at this moment in time will be constant through and through until election day,” he said.

Shaharuddin added that the quality of candidates would also play an important role in determining the true support for BN among the country’s various ethnic communities.

He noted that Merdeka Center’s survey methodology of collecting public opinions through phone calls could have also been a major factor in Najib’s high popularity rating.

“When it is face to face, direct contact, the behaviour and replies from a respondent could be different,” he said.

Najib will lead the ruling BN for the first time into the coming 13th general election, which observers believe will be the most hotly-contested polls to date.

In recent months, Najib and his government have gone on overdrive, doling out handout after handout and people-pleasing policies aimed at ensuring a comfortable victory against Pakatan Rakyat (PR), the federal opposition pact that has over the years grown in strength and in numbers.

In Budget 2013, Najib announced a smorgasbord of handouts and benefits in an effort to court electoral support ahead of polls.

These include a second round of RM500 cash handouts to lower income families, dubbed “BR1M 2.0”, as well as an expansion of the programme to include payments of RM250 to single youths earning below RM3,000 monthly.

Earlier this week, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin suggested that the payments may be made permanent and even doubled to RM1,000 with a BN victory.

Other aid measures include RM500 book vouchers and a new RM250 smartphone rebate for students.

The previous round of BR1M handouts was shown to have boosted support for Najib, especially in the lower income groups that were the main recipients.

But an opposition-backed mega-rally called “Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat” today risks throwing a wrench into BN’s works, just as the April 28, 2012 Bersih rally was said to have derailed Najib’s plans for a snap election then.

Najib has the option to call Election 2013 anytime before April 27, after which Parliament will be dissolved and polls automatically put into action.


By Clara Chooi
Assistant News Editor

Merdeka Center