Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s approval rating took a very small dip from 65 percent in May to 64 percent in June, following a significant drop in Malay and Indian satisfaction over his performance.
Based on a survey conducted from June 22 to 29 by independent pollsters Merdeka Centre, Malay respondents’ satisfaction of Najib’s performance was 75 percent, down four percent from May, while the figure is 69 percent for Indian respondents, down three percent.
The overall approval rating would have been lower if not for the Chinese respondents, of which 42 percent are satisfied with Najib’s performance, up five percent from the month before.
Najib’s approval rating from the Chinese respondents had nosedived in May by 19 percent to just 37 percent, believed to be influenced by the government’s mishandling of the Bersih 3.0 rally 0n April 28.
Merdeka Centre notes that Najib’s approval rating had remained positively stable overall but satisfaction with his government is down six percent, with only 42 percent of respondents claiming that “they were happy with the government”.
The research centre indicated that the spike in the Chinese community’s preference had to do with the government recognition of certificates by Tunku Abdul Rahman College (TARC).
Najib had announced last month that the MCA-backed college’s over 70 diploma and advanced diploma programmes before 2008 would be given government recognition.
MCA said that the move enables 100,000 former students who had earned such certificates prior to the establishment of the Malaysian Qualification Agency (MQA) in 2008 to use their qualifications to join public universities and the civil service.
The respondents may have also been swayed by the government’s move to replace the archaic Sedition Act 1948 with a National Harmony Bill and “easing anger over (government) response to last April’s Bersih protest”.
“The mixed views from the communities may likely be influenced by increased concerns over the state of the economy and, among Indian respondents, coupled with dissatisfaction over statements directed towards civil society activist Ambiga Sreenevasan,” the survey found, following the furore over controversial remarks by a BN parliamentarian.
Sri Gading MP Mohamad Aziz had asked in Parliament if Ambiga, a former Bar Council president and a prominent human rights proponent, should be sentenced to be hanged for treason.
The statement had ignited harsh remarks and police reports against Mohamad, and Najib had reminded BN members to be careful in making remarks that “touch on sentiments”.
June also marked the month where the Malaysian government sealed a loan of two pandas from China and formalised plans to allow China’s universities to set up local branches.
Decline in voters’ support of government
Despite the “stable and high satisfaction” for Najib, the survey adduced that voters’ views of the government continued to decline, with 42 percent of respondents reporting that “they were happy with the government”.
According to the survey, this had decreased by six percent compared to the survey conducted two months ago.
“The decline was particularly noticeable among Malay voters, where the responses of those saying ‘happy’ with the government declined from 65 percent in May to 58 percent in June 2012,” it said.
The centre projected that the decline “may have less to do with politics or how they perceive the prime minister but with how voters perceive the economy is performing and its effect on their
With 30 percent of the respondents, who fall under the RM1,501 to RM3,000 income bracket, concerns could have been over the country’s economic performance.
The research indicated that “cost of living and wages” caused uneasiness in 39 percent of respondents as compared to 33 percent in May.
“This is followed by concerns over crime and social problems at 12 percent and political issues at 8 percent.
“The survey found that rising concerns over the economy may have also dampened the national outlook, with 54 percent saying the country is headed on the right track compared to 58 percent in April,” said the survey gauged from feedback by 1,010 registered voters interviewed over the telephone.