Myanmar athlete ditches Olympic dream in junta protest

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a Feb 1 coup. (AP pic)

BANGKOK: A Myanmar swimmer has abandoned his dream of competing at the Tokyo Olympics in protest at the junta ruling his homeland, saying that taking part would be “propaganda” for the regime.

Win Htet Oo is one of Myanmar’s top swimmers but in early April, the 26-year-old said he was no longer interested in going to Tokyo.

“To accept the MOC (Myanmar Olympic Committee) as it is currently led is to recognise the legitimacy of a murderous regime,” he wrote in a statement on Facebook.

“I shall not march in the (opening ceremony’s) Parade of Nations under a flag steeped in my people’s blood.”

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a Feb 1 coup, with much of its population taking to the streets to demand a return to democracy.

To quell the uprising, security forces have cracked down with deadly violence, killing more than 750 civilians in anti-coup unrest, according to a monitoring group.

Besides street protests, a nationwide civil disobedience movement has brought large parts of the country’s economy to a standstill – with civil servants and workers boycotting their jobs in a refusal to serve the military regime.

Win Htet Oo said turning his back on Myanmar’s Olympic team was his way of joining the movement.

“I wanted to show Myanmar people that athletes can take part in the civil disobedience movement,” he told AFP, speaking from Melbourne, Australia.

“The image of me walking behind the flag in the Parade of Nations and smiling – pretending everything was all right – quite frankly disgusted me.”

“It would be a propaganda exercise, some sort of way to tell the world that everything is fine in Myanmar.”

‘Undermines Olympic values’

Much of the international community has condemned the junta for the coup and its use of violence against unarmed civilians.

Western powers – including the US, EU and Britain – have imposed sanctions targeting the military top brass and their business interests.

Win Htet Oo achieved the 50m freestyle Olympic selection time at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, putting him in the frame for Tokyo.

He said he wrote to the International Olympic Committee in March, citing the ongoing violence in Myanmar and asking to compete as an independent Olympic athlete.

But his request was declined.

The IOC told AFP that “to the best of our knowledge”, Win Htet Oo had not been selected by the Myanmar team.

“I’m trying to let the IOC know and people know that the MOC is not a legitimate Olympic committee and they undermine Olympic values,” he said with a frustrated sigh.

Swimming at the Olympics has been an ambition since childhood for Win Htet Oo, who moved to Melbourne in 2017 to fast-track his training.

Today he works as a lifeguard at a sports facility where he watches Australian athletes train for the Olympics, and does laps in between his shifts.

Win Htet Oo says he harbours “no regrets” about turning his back on the Games.

“For me, it’s just one person’s dream of going to the Olympics, but in Myanmar, millions of young people have witnessed their dreams and aspirations have disappeared,” he says.

One of his non-Olympic dreams was to bring youth sports to conflict-wracked areas of Myanmar, to help reconcile divided communities.

With the country headed for “a dark future”, Win Htet Oo says he feels compelled to join the fight for democracy – much to the dismay of his immediate family in Australia.

“As soon as travel restrictions lift I want to come to Myanmar to continue the struggle – if it is at all possible,” he says.

“That’s what I think about every day.”

RESPONSE TO MEDIA QUERY ON APRIL 23rd PRESS RELEASE

We read with interest over the feedback elicited from the results to the survey which we released on 23rd April and would like to clear the air over a number of topics raised by various quarters:

  • The survey was conducted by telephone interviews which allows for a more representative distribution of respondents. In the context of this survey, respondents matching the age, gender and ethnic criteria based on the profile of the Election Commission’s electoral roll were selected and interviewed from every parliamentary constituency in Peninsula Malaysia.
  • The survey sample size affords a margin of error of less than ± 3.00% which is more than adequate to gain a response on a fairly clear matter of the respondents’ assessment of particular political leaders and other topics.
  • Although all surveys are not free from biases such as social desirability bias, our survey places great emphasis on statistical rigor to ensure reliability by controlling for various variables such as age groups, location i.e. urban vs rural along with socio-economic background so as to have a representative sample of the electorate.
  • Comparison with social media driven online surveys may result in misleading conclusions due to the difficulty in controlling for self-selection bias which means certain groups of people may be more motivated to respond compared to others. There is also the question as to whether controls for representativeness of the sample were put in place. Additionally, it should also be noted that Malaysian Twitter users are limited – less than 5% of the total population (source: https://gs.statcounter.com/social-media-stats/all/malaysia)
  • The survey topic in question was about the leader and should not be conflated, confused or transposed on other questions such as which party people would vote for in an election.

https://www.facebook.com/pg/malaysiaopinionresearch/posts/?ref=page_internal

Merdeka Centre hits back at polling critics

themalaysianinsight.com | 23-Apr-2021 – SOCIAL media surveys are not representative of voters, because Twitter users in Malaysia are limited in number, said the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research.

“Comparisons with social media driven online surveys may result in misleading conclusions due to the difficulty in controlling self-selection bias, which means certain groups of people may be motivated to respond compared to others.

Malaysian PM’s Approval Rating ‘Stable’ Amid Vaccine Rollout

Muhyiddin Yassin at a news conference after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Putra Jaya, Malaysia, on Feb. 24.
Muhyiddin Yassin at a news conference after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Putra Jaya, Malaysia, on Feb. 24. Photographer: Samsul Said/Bloomberg

bloomberg.com | 24-Apr-2021 – Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s approval rating remained stable in the latest survey, with a majority of people polled “satisfied” with the government’s handling of the pandemic, according to research house Merdeka Center.

The prime minister’s rating eased to 67% in April from 68% in March, compared with 63% in January, according to the survey. Seventy percent of voters polled were satisfied with how the government was handling the pandemic, up from 53% in January, it said. The results also showed that Muhyiddin retains strong backing from the dominant Malay electorate, with 83% support.

Muhyiddin’s rating is “still strong” despite the “stressed conditions voters report for their own personal financial conditions and their perception of the economy,” Merdeka Center said.

The prime minister is gearing up for an election that he said will be called as soon as the pandemic is brought under control. Malaysia declared a state of emergency in January, allowing Muhyiddin to suspend parliament until the emergency ends in August.

Muhyiddin took over as prime minister early last year with a razor-thin majority after his predecessor, Mahathir Mohamad, abruptly quit.

Second Day of Malaysia's Covid-19 Vaccine Roll Out
A health care worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to a frontline worker in Selangor, Malaysia, on March 2. Photographer: Samsul Said/Bloomberg

Still, the public mood about where the country is headed was mixed, with 41% believing that the country was “moving in the right direction” and 46% that was “headed in the wrong direction,” the survey showed.

The poll was conducted between March 31 and April 12, before infections started climbing again. New Covid-19 cases topped 2,000 on April 15 for the first time in more than a month and have remained above that level through April 23.

The survey involved 2,111 registered voters across Peninsular Malaysia with an estimated margin of error of 2.13%, according to Merdeka Center.

Muhyiddin’s approval rating stable at 67%, survey shows

PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s approval rating remains stable at 67% amid concerns over the economy and the Covid-19 pandemic, a recent survey of Peninsular Malaysia voters reveals. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Hasnoor Hussain, April 23, 2021.

themalaysianinsight.com | 23-Apr-2021 – PRIME Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s approval rating remains stable at 67% amid concerns over the economy and the Covid-19 pandemic, a recent survey of Peninsular Malaysia voters revealed.

The survey by Merdeka Centre showed that Muhyiddin retained strong support from the Malay electorate at 83% as compared to 30% and 66% from the Chinese and Indian communities respectively.

Only 1 of 5 very satisfied with Putrajaya’s Covid-19 response, poll shows

Most Malaysians polled by Merdeka Centre say they are happy with the way the government is handling the Covid-19 pandemic. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Hasnoor Hussain, April 23, 2021.

themalaysianinsight.com | 23-Apr-2021 – ONLY 21% – or one out of five Malaysians – polled by Merdeka Centre were “very satisfied” with Putrajaya’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The survey, carried out between March and April, showed that 49% of the respondents were satisfied, while 19% were dissatisfied.

PM Muhyiddin riding high despite Malaysia’s worst Covid-19 wave, survey shows

Oover 2,000 voters were surveyed by the Merdeka Centre, with 67 per cent saying they were satisfied with PM Muhyiddin Yassin.
Oover 2,000 voters were surveyed by the Merdeka Centre, with 67 per cent saying they were satisfied with PM Muhyiddin Yassin.PHOTO: AFP

straitstimes.com | 23-Apr-2021 – KUALA LUMPUR – Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s approval ratings have barely dipped despite Malaysia experiencing its worst wave of coronavirus infections earlier this year, with nearly seven in 10 still giving him the thumbs up.

While 67 per cent of over 2,000 voters surveyed by top pollster Merdeka Centre from March 31 to April 12 said they were satisfied with Tan Sri Muhyiddin, 83 per cent of the crucial Malay electorate – which forms the majority in more than half of Parliament’s 222 seats – approved of his premiership.

“The survey indicates… signs of optimism after the reopening of the economy along with the commencement of the vaccination roll-out,” the centre said in a statement on Friday (April 23).

“This is manifested in the still strong approval for the Prime Minister and reasonable confidence in the handling of the pandemic and economy – despite the stressed conditions voters report for their own personal financial conditions and their perception of the economy.”

Economic concerns (57 per cent) and the spread of Covid-19 (16 per cent) were ranked as the top concerns in the poll.

Merdeka Center has also consistently found more Malaysians expressing a decline rather than an improvement in their personal finances and the national economy for the past seven years.

Yet, satisfaction with the Muhyiddin administration’s economic management has been positive throughout, except in January, when only 45 per cent said they were happy, from a high of 65 per cent last May.

Backing for the government’s economic chops is now at 51 per cent.

When satisfaction with the government’s handling of the pandemic was at a high of 93 per cent in August last year – daily infections were often in single digits – Mr Muhyiddin’s approval was at 69 per cent.

A low of 63 per cent backing the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president in January coincided with happiness in his government’s Covid-19 performance dropping to 53 per cent. Strict movement curbs had to be reimposed and new cases reached nearly 6,000 then.

Faith in the administration’s pandemic response rebounded to 70 per cent this month as daily infections dropped below 1,000 although the 2,000 mark has been breached the whole of the past week.

Mr Muhyiddin’s popularity remains a key consideration for his fledgling Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition, especially after Umno – the largest party in his government – declared it would go its separate way once an election is called.

The premier has vowed that fresh polls would be held once a much-criticised emergency, declared ostensibly to see off the pandemic, is lifted.

The King declared the seven-month-long emergency in January on the Muhyiddin administration’s advice, allowing the premier to suspend Parliament and avoid challenges to his majority which has been in doubt since the turn of the year.

Apart from Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), the Bersatu-led PN is largely viewed as not having a strong grassroots machinery ahead of its firstgeneral election.

Instead, Umno hopes to reclaim its dominance of Malaysian politics, which ended after six uninterrupted decades when the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition – which Bersatu was part of – shockingly won the 2018 polls.

Many analysts believe a three-way battle between PH, PN and the Umno-led Barisan Nasional will be so tightly fought that an outright majority will not be won on election night.

Merdeka Center: PM approval rating is 67pct, stable

Malaysiakini

malaysiakini.com | 23-Apr-2021 –

Independent pollster Merdeka Center said Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin enjoys a 67 percent approval rating in Peninsular Malaysia and described his rating as stable.

Muhyiddin’s highest approval rating recorded by Merdeka Center was 74 percent between June and July last year. The lowest rating recorded was 63 percent in January.

The vast majority of…

Merdeka Center: Increased approval rating for Muhyiddin indicates increasing optimism for Perikatan govt

When juxtaposed against the general sentiment towards Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s leadership as prime minister, 67 per cent of respondents expressed satisfaction with him at the wheel, 30 per cent were dissatisfied, and three per cent undecided. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
When juxtaposed against the general sentiment towards Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s leadership as prime minister, 67 per cent of respondents expressed satisfaction with him at the wheel, 30 per cent were dissatisfied, and three per cent undecided. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

malaymail.com | KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 — Despite the majority of Malaysians still unhappy over the direction of the country, an increased approval rating for Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin indicates increasing optimism for the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration, Merdeka Center suggested today.

“In our view, the survey indicates a West Malaysian electorate that is exhibiting some signs of optimism after the reopening of the economy along with the commencement of the vaccination rollout.

“This is manifested in the still strong approval for the prime minister and reasonable confidence in the handling of the pandemic and economy — despite the still stressed conditions voters report for their own personal financial conditions and their perception of the economy,” it said in a statement.

Its recent survey which polled 2,111 respondents from March 31 to April 12 showed that 41 per cent of them agreed the country is headed in the right direction, with 46 per cent disagreeing, and the rest unsure.

However when juxtaposed against the general sentiment towards Muhyiddin’s leadership as prime minister, 67 per cent of respondents expressed satisfaction with him at the wheel, 30 per cent were dissatisfied, and three per cent undecided.

The last survey conducted in January saw Muhyiddin obtaining only a 63 per cent approval rating, with 50 per cent of respondents having disagreed with the country’s direction earlier this year.

As for the 46 per cent of respondents who did not think the country is heading in the right direction, their main concern is the general political instability, followed by the country’s economic performance with specific grouses such as rising cost of living, and employment.

These respondents also expressed worries towards the quality of administration in the government, with others issues being incompetent leaders and racial inequality.

In order of importance, these respondents listed economic concerns, the curbing of the Covid-19 pandemic, politics, racial issues, and leadership abilities as their top worries.

For the 41 per cent who agreed with the country’s direction, a majority of them revealed they felt the government is being administered well, and that the welfare of the people are being looked after.

A portion were also content with the gains and the favourable economic condition, a portion attributing their yes votes to the peace enjoyed in the country, and a few who agreed the current political situation is sufficiently stable.

However, when quizzed specifically on the country’s economy,  68 per cent of respondents said they felt it has deteriorated, 19 per cent said it has improved, seven per cent who said nothing has changed, and the remaining unsure.

Across the board, the majority of respondents from be it racial groups, male and female participants, those with or without a college level education, even and those in urban and rural settings felt the economy is going through a decline.

Even respondents across different age categories, professions, and household income groups agreed that the declining country’s economy is experiencing a slump.

As for the government’s handling of the economy 51 per cent of respondents expressed satisfaction, with 43 per cent disagreeing with government’s handling.

When broken down into racial groups, 66 per cent of Malay respondents provided positive answers to the country’s management of the economy, 47 per cent of Indians agreeing, with only 17 per cent of Chinese respondents feeling the same.

But when tested across professions, most of the test groups consisting of those employed in the government of government-linked companies (66 per cent), those in the private sector (48 per cent) and the self employed (51 per cent) said they agreed with the government’s management of the economy.

Pandemic, Malay power lend popularity boost to Malaysia PM: Poll

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin smiles during a session of the lower house of parliament, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia July 13, 2020.Muhyiddin Yassin has been rated highly by voters, according to a poll published on Wednesday, on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and greater representation of the ethnic Malay majority in his administration. (Reuters/Lim Huey Teng)

thejakartapost.com | 02-Sept-2020 – Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has been rated highly by voters, according to a poll published on Wednesday, on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and greater representation of the ethnic Malay majority in his administration.

Muhyiddin received a 69% approval rating in a survey run by independent pollster Merdeka Center, six months after taking office in March following a power struggle that saw the collapse of the previous multi-ethnic government led by Mahathir Mohamad.

Survey respondents also gave a 93% approval rating for the government’s handling of COVID-19 and rated it highly for helping the needy and managing the economy during the coronavirus-induced crisis. Malaysia has reported just over 9,300 coronavirus infections.

In the last popularity poll https://reut.rs/3hSwxEP published by Merdeka Center in April last year, less than half of Malaysians approved of then-premier Mahathir as concerns over rising costs and racial issues plagued his administration.

Merdeka Center Executive Director Ibrahim Suffian said Malay voters indicated a strong preference for the administration’s management of the pandemic and the ensuing economic fallout and for bringing together long-feuding Malay political parties.

“The results also indicate a significant swing of support of Malay voters towards a unified Malay political coalition,” Ibrahim said in a statement.

Ethnic Malays account for some 60% of Malaysia’s population of about 32 million, with the rest comprised mostly of ethnic Chinese and ethnic Indian minorities.

Muhyiddin, who leads the Malay-based Bersatu party, secured the premiership backed by two of the largest parties representing Malay interests – the scandal-tainted former ruling party, United Malays National Organization (UMNO) and the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party.

But he holds a razor-thin majority in parliament. In July, UMNO, which forms the largest bloc in Muhyiddin’s administration, withdrew from the prime minister’s political alliance, though the party said it would continue to support the government in parliament.

Merdeka Center