PETALING JAYA, 8 July 2009: Most peninsular Malaysians think Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will be able to improve race relations, according to the latest Merdeka Centre poll.
The survey, titled 100 days of the Najib administration, found that 60% of respondents, comprising 72% Indian, 71% Malay and 40% Chinese Malaysians, were confident that racial divisions would lessen under Najib’s leadership.
The survey, which interviewed 1,060 voters between 19 June and 1 July 2009, also found 46% of respondents were confident that 1Malaysia would be able to achieve its goals.
Up to 76% of the public were aware of Najib’s 1Malaysia concept with 23% broadly saying that “it promotes unity between the various races” and 18% saying it “is about fairness and equality among the races”. However, 39% of respondents did not understand what 1Malaysia was about.
Merdeka Center programme director Ibrahim Suffian said Najib’s approval ratings have improved in part because of his message of inter-community unity via 1Malaysia as well as his “conciliatory gestures over Malay unity”.
Ibrahim noted in a statement today that as Najib approached his 100 days in office, the economic measures he has taken have also buoyed his approval ratings.
Sixty-three per cent of respondents believed the liberalisation measures Najib announced on 30 June 2009 would help Malaysia in the long run. However, 78% of respondents didn’t understand the liberalisation measures.
“Fully 65% (comprising 15% saying ‘very satisfied’ and 50% saying ‘somewhat satisfied’) of Malaysians say that they were satisfied with his performance as prime minister, significantly up from 45% in mid-May 2009.
“Broken down into ethnic groups, the survey found 74% of Malay, 48% of Chinese and 74% of Indian [Malaysians] expressing satisfaction,” the Merdeka Centre statement added.
Still far cry
Despite Najib’s improved ratings, DAP adviser and Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timur Lim Kit Siang said it was a far cry from Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s ratings as prime minister in the latter’s first 100 days in 2004.
Lim noted that Abdullah had a 91% approval rating after his first 100 days. But that rating fell to 42% in July 2008, after the 8 March elections in which the opposition gained more power than ever before.
Lim “Two critical questions for Najib’s popularity rating from future opinion polls are: How high can Najib’s popularity rating reach and can it ever peak to Abdullah’s levels, and when Najib’s popularity rating will begin a new descent,” Lim said in a statement.
Lim also took issue with a comment Najib made at a dinner speech on 27 June 2009 that was hosted by the MCA and the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Najib had said the BN needed to deal with education, the economy, religion and crime to regain the confidence of Chinese Malaysians.
“It is not just the Chinese, but all Malaysians regardless of race, who are also concerned about these four issues of education, economy, religion and crime. What must be added are corruption and Malaysian citizenship rights,” Lim said.