Repeal draconian laws to ensure media freedom, says activist

C4 chief Cynthia Gabriel said any bias in reporting by media which is owned by tycoons or political parties will lead to distrust against the media in general.

freemalaysiatoday.com | 10-May-2021 – PETALING JAYA: There is an urgent need to repeal draconian media-related laws and push for media reform and greater press freedoms, rights advocate Cynthia Gabriel said today.

Gabriel, who is executive director of the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4), claims laws such as the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 and Sedition Act 1948, among others, have been used as a “shield” to protect those in power.

Speaking today in a webinar titled “Malaysia’s Trust in Media”, she said that any political bias in news coverage could also be due to ownership by political parties or influential people.

“News coverage tends to be biased if a news portal is owned by a certain political party or tycoon with a political agenda. This will destroy democracy in the country.

“Such bias in news reporting could also lead to growing distrust of the media,” she added.

Earlier in the webinar, Merdeka Center programme director Ibrahim Suffian said a survey commissioned by the NUJ with the International Federation of Journalists (under the European Commission Project), revealed that many Malaysians agreed with the provisions in the Sedition Act and anti-fake news law, despite the concern that such laws could be abused by the authorities.

He said the survey showed that many Malaysians acknowledged the threat of fake news and supported laws that served to curb disinformation in the country.

Is Malaysia heading in the right direction? Youth are pretty much split down the middle, according to new survey

According to Merdeka Center’s ‘National Youth Survey 2021’, Malaysian youth have mixed views on the country’s future. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

malaymail.com | 08-May-2021 – KUALA LUMPUR, May 8 — A recent survey has found that Malaysian youth have mixed views on the country’s future, with 46 per cent saying it is heading in the “right” direction, while another 42 per cent believe it is going the “wrong” way.

According to Merdeka Center’s “National Youth Survey 2021”, the most prevalent reasons cited by youth with positive sentiments were administration (17.6 per cent), leadership (11.6 per cent) and economic concerns (9.1 per cent).

This was followed by social and public safety (4.9 per cent), along with development and infrastructure (3 per cent).

Top reasons why Malaysian youth think country is headed in ‘right’ direction

For those that believe the country is going sideways, politics (24.7 per cent), economic concerns (20.9 per cent), administration (9.6 per cent), health (8 percent) and leadership (5.6 per cent) were the most frequent concerns mentioned.

Corruption was among the lowest concerns listed, with only 0.8 per cent of those who held a negative view saying it influenced their perspective, as were education (1 per cent), along with social and public safety (1.3 per cent).

Top reasons why Malaysian youth think country is headed in ‘wrong’ direction

Furthermore, 70 per cent of youth polled said they were uninterested in information related to politics.

Of that percentage, 66 per cent believe that politicians “do not care what people think”, while 78 per cent said that politics and government seemed beyond their grasp.

When asked if they identified more with their ethnicity or nationality, 46 per cent of respondents said it was an even split.

This was followed by 40 per cent who said feeling Malaysian took precedence.

Only 11 per cent said they identified more with their ethnicity than their nationality.

The survey did not reveal which respondents were more likely to identify with their nationality or ethnicity, based on their ethnic background.

Meanwhile, 88 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement that “Malaysians need to develop new political thinking that is no longer premised on race and religious difference”, while 10 per cent disagreed with the statement.

Two per cent refused to answer or were unsure.

Similarly, 94 per cent of them agreed that “Malaysians need to put multiculturalism at the centre of society and celebrate an inclusive Malaysian identity that embraces all races and religions”. Only 3 per cent disagreed.

This data was taken from the results of a study conducted by the Merdeka Center between February 19 and March 20, 2021, with 2,520 respondents aged from 18 to 30, from all states across Malaysia.

The respondents were equally divided between female and male, and further demarcated by race; their location in urban, semi-urban and rural settings; and if they are registered voters.

Survey: Financial constraints Malaysian youths’ top concern followed by unemployment

People were face masks during the movement control order, in Kuala Lumpur city centre February 16, 2021. — Picture by Hari Anggara

malaymail.com | 07-May-2021 – KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 — According to a recent study, “financial constraints” was the highest among the top five concerns faced by Malaysian youths.

Merdeka Center, in its National Youth Survey 2021 report released this evening, said 28.8 per cent of those polled said financial constraints are their top concern followed by 12.7 per cent who listed unemployment as their main problem they face today.

Top 5 among ‘issues, concerns or problems’ faced by Malaysian youth

The subsequent issues listed in the top five were “E-learning” (7.5 per cent), “internet connection” (5.5 per cent) and “Covid-19” (four per cent).

This list coincided with another poll in the study, where 34 per cent of youths aged between 18 to 30 said financial stability was their biggest need, followed by 17.3 per cent who opted towards job security and employment opportunity.

Top 5 among ‘needs’ of Malaysian youth

The following three other top needs for the youths polled were internet connection (6.6 per cent), effective online learning method (4.5 per cent) and comfortable living place (4 per cent).

Similarly, when asked if they have enough to make ends meet, 52 per cent of those surveyed said they have enough, while 44 per cent said they are struggling.

A further four per cent either refused to answer the question or said they were unsure.

Of those surveyed, 84 per cent said they are confident in achieving their goals.

Among the top aspirations listed by the youth were family bonding (29.1 per cent), financial stability or wealth (25.3 per cent), success in their career (18 per cent) and good education (18 per cent).

Meanwhile, 82 per cent of the youth agreed that everyone has a fair chance to increase their social standing based on their talent and hard work, while 15 per cent believed people’s standing was based on their background and “who your parents are”.

The study was conducted between February 19 and March 20, with 2,520 respondents aged from 18 to 30, from all states across Malaysia.

The respondents were equally divided between female and male, and further divided between race, urban; semi-urban and rural, and if they were registered as voters.

Myanmar athlete ditches Olympic dream in junta protest

freemalaysiatoday.com | 30-Apr-2021 – 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.

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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