Survey shows only 45pc of Malaysians happy with Najib
THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 — Less than two months into his administration, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak only has the thumbs up from 45 per cent of Malaysians polled recently, with nearly four out of 10 refusing to even answer the question.
Another 16 per cent remained dissatisfied with the country’s sixth prime minister, according to the latest Merdeka Centre survey released today.
The big shift from disapproving respondents towards uncertainty may be due to the short period that Najib has been in power.
But recent crackdowns on dissent through police arrests and the use of the Sedition Act may have stunted the strength of open disapproval.
What seems clear is that Najib has not been given the privilege of a “honeymoon period” and the groundswell of unhappiness with Barisan Nasional has left him with little or no reservoir of good will to draw from.
As his administration took over Putrajaya, only 35 per cent felt the country was headed in the right direction, with 36 per cent satisfied with the state of the nation. These figures have now improved to 42 per cent and 51 per cent respectively.
Still, it seems Najib has surpassed expectations of Malaysians prior to his premiership, which began on April 3.
The Merdeka Centre also found that 45 per cent of Malaysians were satisfied with Najib in May, a point up from just before he stepped up as PM, which in turn was up from a low of 34 per cent in early March.
The survey suggests that both the Perak crisis and the release of the five Hindraf leaders from Internal Security Act detention have had great impact.
A less pessimistic outlook on the economy also seems to have helped, despite most respondents being unaware of Najib’s move to free up the services and financial sectors.
The Perak political crisis ignited in February due to Barisan’s takeover of the state. Anger seems to have dissipated with the passing of time and in May, the High Court had ruled that Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin’s Pakatan Rakyat government was still legal. When the survey concluded, the Court of Appeal had yet to overturn this decision.
Meanwhile, the country’s tiny Indian community were surprisingly the most supportive of Najib, with a 64 per cent approval rating. It coincided with his decision to release all five Hindraf leaders who were detained two years ago after a massive street protest against claimed injustices towards the community.
Fifty-three per cent of Malays were also pleased with Najib but less than a quarter of the Chinese population feel likewise.
However, only 36 per cent of Malaysians were aware of Najib’s move to liberalise the economy by removing Bumiputera quotas for certain sub-sectors. Of these, 70 per cent of non-Malays agreed with it but only 37 per cent of Malays felt the same.
Yet across the board, all ethnic groups concurred that it would improve investment and job opportunities, with over two-thirds of Indians welcoming the changes.
Respondents also said the economy was the most pressing issue that the prime minister needed to address.
Najib, who is also finance minister, said last week the country was in recession with the economy expected to contract up to 5 per cent in 2009. The government has put in two stimulus packages in the past six months but it was not fast enough to stem the 6.2 per cent contraction for the first quarter of 2009.
He has said the country needs a new economic model that emphasised innovativeness and creativity apart from introducing his “1 Malaysia” concept to promote togetherness and unity.