Najib's ratings fall

Posted by Penarik Beca Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Singapore Straits Times (3/2/09): The approval rating of Malaysia's incoming prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, continues to fall, amid increasing unhappiness among Malaysians over the government's handling of important issues in recent months.

Just 41 per cent believe current Deputy Prime Minister Najib will be a good PM, a survey of 1,018 Malaysian voters by independent pollster Merdeka Centre late last month showed.

Current Premier Abdullah Badawi fared marginally better - 46 per cent of respondents said they were happy with his performance as PM.

Their main beef was the way the government has been handling issues such as racial inequality, racial relations, corruption, the economy and inflation. Such issues, the survey found, topped the list of concerns voters had when it came to assessing the government's performance.

Some 43 per cent of voters said the economy was the most pressing issue facing the country, while 17 per cent were most worried about ethnic-related concerns, and 10 per cent about governance and corruption.

The dismal approval ratings, which were released by the centre yesterday, are a far cry from the popularity that both leaders enjoyed when Datuk Seri Abdullah took over as PM in 2003.

Then, around 80 per cent of respondents gave the two men the thumbs-up.

While the approval ratings follow naturally from the shock results experienced by the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition in last year's March election, they also come at a bad time for Mr Najib, who is scheduled to take over as premier when Mr Abdullah steps down next month.

Negative perceptions about Mr Najib appeared to be especially strong among non-Malay voters. Only 18 per cent of Chinese and 28 per cent of Indians said he would make a good PM.

On the other hand, Malay voters, who form the majority in Malaysia, gave him a higher rating: 57 per cent of them said he would make a good PM.

'They expect him to turn things around for Umno,' said Mr Ibrahim Suffian, who runs Merdeka Centre.

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