Malaysiakini.com | 01-Aug-2008, – More than half of the 1,030 Malaysians throughout Peninsular Malaysia surveyed in a poll said they were unhappy with Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s performance.
About 54 percent of those surveyed expressed dissatisfaction with the prime minister, while 42 percent said they felt otherwise – resulting in more Malaysians disapproved of him than approved.
This is the first time that Abdullah’s popularity has plunged to below 50 percent from a record high of 91 percent in late 2004 – months after he won his first term as prime minister.
His approval rating was at 61 percent just before the March 8 general elections. In April, it went down to 53 percent and currently it is at 42 percent.
The opinion poll was conducted between July 4-16 by the independent Merdeka Center for Opinion Research and aimed at gauging voters’ perceptions of current issues, the state of the economy and leadership.
Conducted by telephone, it targeted Malaysians throughout the peninsula who were randomly selected and structured along the national electorate profile to achieve proportional balance in terms of gender, ethnicity and state.
The survey’s margin of error is estimated at plus or minus 3.1 percent.
Merdeka Center executive director Ibrahim Suffian said the decline in Abdullah’s approval ratings over the past few months is not only restricted to the widespread anger over rising food and fuel prices.
The continuing ‘bickering’ and political uncertainty – both within and outside Abdullah’s Umno – has also been a source of concern, he said.
“The public wants to see him find ways to bring the country back to an even keel,” he told Malaysiakini.
Similar trends were found when the respondents were asked regarding their level of satisfaction with Barisan Nasional.
It found that 54 percent were either “somewhat dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with the BN government, while 44 percent said they were either “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied”.
A clearer divide was discernable when respondents were asked regarding Umno and whether they thought it reflects the “aspirations and needs” of Malaysians.
Only one out of three, or 36 percent, responded positively while the majority (58 percent) expressed their dissatisfaction with the party.
Pakatan did slightly better
Among other highlights of the survey was the question on whether Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak would make a good prime minister, with almost half saying no.
While 34 percent of the respondents said yes, 47 percent answered no.
The opposition Pakatan Rakyat state governments, in comparison, fared slightly better in terms of the respondents’ level of satisfaction.
Two out of three, or 57 percent, said they were either somewhat satisfied or very satisfied, while 32 percent said they were “somewhat dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied”.
On the related issue of whether they agreed with the action taken by the BN federal government to disburse development funds to a federal body rather than directly to the Pakatan state governments, only 30 percent gave their approval.
Over half, or 54 percent, on the other hand, said they were either “somewhat” or “very” dissatisfied with the action.
To a question comparing Barisan with Pakatan in terms of the likelihood of either fulfilling their election promises, respondents were almost equally divided.
However, more expressed lack of faith in Barisan in delivering in its promises.
While 55 percent said they were not confident that Barisan would fulfill its promises, 42 percent of the respondents said they were not confident that Pakatan parties would fulfill their promises.
In the section on ‘general directions and the economy’, respondents projected a clear concern towards the state and direction of the economy and worried about their own financial situation.
Economic problems important
A large majority indicated that they perceived the country was going in the wrong direction. Only 28 percent felt satisfied with the way things are going in the country.
Almost two-thirds, or 59 percent, perceive economic problems to be the most important facing Malaysia today, with only 24 percent viewed the economy “favourably”.
Only one in five, or 19 percent, viewed the economy favourably when asked to compare the present situation to 2005.
About one-third, or 34 percent, of the respondents answered positively when asked to relate the economic outlook to their personal income, prices of consumer items and services, and job and business opportunities.
Only 10 percent of respondents said political issues were the most important challenges facing the country.
Reflective of the level of cynicism towards the government’s reduction of subsidies, a large majority (62 percent) said they believed the savings where channeled to benefit “people with political connections”.
Only 23 percent said the savings went to make the lives of ‘ordinary Malaysians” better. Fourteen percent did not know while one percent gave no response.