01 August, 2008

PM's popularity falls to new low

Public confidence in Malaysia's political and economic future has dwindled dramatically in recent months, with the prime minister's popularity hitting an all-time low, a survey showed Friday.

Merdeka Center research firm found that only 28 percent of registered voters polled in July felt encouraged by the country's direction, a severe fall from 68 percent in late February.

The center said its nationwide survey of 1,030 adults was conducted by telephone July 4-14 and had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

Fifty-four percent were displeased with Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's performance, compared to 42 percent who were satisfied _ Abdullah's worst approval rating since he took office in 2003, said the center's director Ibrahim Suffian.

The results follow a public backlash over the government's decision to hike gasoline prices by 41 percent in June and persistent uncertainties after Abdullah's ruling coalition lost its longtime political dominance in March general elections.

"People feel bad about economic issues. They are concerned that the political bickering in this country is not helping to generate solutions," Ibrahim told The Associated Press.

Only 8 percent of respondents said current consumer prices were acceptable and 20 percent expect the economy to improve next year, highlighting the impact of inflation that spiraled to 7.7 percent in June. It was the steepest climb in more than 27 years.

Abdullah announced Friday the government will set a new retail price for gasoline once every month starting Sept. 1, with a subsidy to keep the price lower than the global market rate.

In another blow to the government, 66 percent of respondents thought that a recent sodomy accusation against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was politically motivated to disrupt his career, the Merdeka Center said.

Anwar insists the accusation by his 23-year-old former aide was part of a government plot, but Abdullah and other leaders deny any conspiracy. Police completed their investigation into the allegation Thursday, but government prosecutors have not announced if Anwar would be charged.

Only 11 percent of the Merdeka Center's respondents believed the sodomy accusation, compared with 55 percent who thought it was false. The others were unsure or did not respond. Only 31 percent were confident that police would handle the case in a fair and transparent manner.

News Release
July 31, 2008

State Of The Economy And Political Developments Are Main Voters’ Concerns

Four months after the 12th General Elections, Malaysian voters cite the state of the economy and political developments as main concerns, as found in the opinion poll conducted by Merdeka Center released today.

The opinion poll, 2nd Quarter 2008 Peninsular Malaysia Voter Opinion Survey was
carried out by the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research between 4th and 14th July 2008 to gauge voters’ perceptions of current issues, the state of the economy and leadership.

The poll’s findings will inform policymakers, politicians, and grassroots advocacy groups as they address voters’ needs as well as engage in public debate.

The opinion poll also provides a view of the state of affairs approximately four months after the results of the general elections.

This poll is a part of Merdeka Center’s series of surveys intended to be carried out on a quarterly basis on issues of top voter concern and perceptions of the
economic and views on Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat.

The first poll in the series was released in April 2008.

The survey reveals a large majority also indicated that they perceived the country was going in the wrong direction – based on only 28% who felt satisfied with the way things are going in the country. This may be in part due to a deepening concern over the state of the economy as a majority (59%), were worried over economic related issues followed by 10% who cited political issues as being most important.

With respect to views on political parties and leaders, in two mutually exclusive
questions, the survey found 44% of Peninsular Malaysia voters were satisfied with the Barisan Nasional while 57% report being satisfied with Pakatan Rakyat.

The poll also found 42% of voters reported satisfaction with Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s performance as prime minister.

With respect to Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the survey found that only 11% believed in the allegation of sexual misconduct while 66% agreed that it “was a politically motivated action to disrupt Anwar Ibrahim’s political career”.

The survey also found that public confidence towards institutions likely to be involved in handling the matter to be relatively low with not more than 33% citing confidence.

The Peninsular Malaysia wide telephone survey of 1030 randomly selected Malaysian registered voters was carried out between 4th and 14th July 2008 was funded via Merdeka Center’s internally generated resources.

Respondents were selected using the random, stratified sampling method and structured along the national electorate profile and specifically proportional to gender, ethnicity, and state of residence.


About Merdeka Center for Opinion Research:

Merdeka Center for Opinion Research was formally established in 2001 as an
independent organization focused on public opinion research and socio-economic

Its members comprise social scientists and professionals with qualifications in economics, communications, marketing and law.

Merdeka’s mission is to act as a bridge between ordinary Malaysians and other stakeholders with the leading members of the nation – by collecting public opinion studies and expressing them through survey results, analysis and position papers.

For details, visit: www.merdeka.org



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