Most Malaysians think country on right path but doubters growing over corruption and taxes, Ipsos poll shows

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 — The majority of Malaysians polled still believed the country was on the right trajectory but their number has fallen by nearly a third from a year ago, according to a new survey from Ipsos.

In the results of the market research firm’s latest “What Worries Malaysians” poll released yesterday, 53 per cent of respondents said in March that they generally agreed with the country’s direction, versus 74 per cent from January 2023.

From the 47 per cent who said they disagreed — up from 26 per cent at the start of 2023 — most cited concerns about corruption and new taxes.

“Malaysians who believe that the country is heading on the wrong track are on the rise. Soon more Malaysians are likely to be pessimistic than optimistic about the country’s direction.

“This starkly contrasts to January 2023, when a whopping three-quarters of the surveyed population indicated that they believed the country was on the right track,” said Ipsos Malaysia managing director Arun Menon and Ipsos public affairs research manager Atticus Poon in an accompanying statement.

The Ipsos poll found that public sentiment about the country began to decrease in 2023 after an initial high in January 2023 following the 14th general election.

In the post-pandemic years, Malaysians had listed their primary concerns as financial/political corruption and inflation. Now, taxes have become one of the top five concerns, which has seen a significant 12 per cent increase from March 2023.

In the latest edition, half of Malaysian respondents said financial and political corruption were a concern while 38 per cent listed inflation. Unemployment, poverty, social inequality, and taxes were the next greatest concerns.

The government has increased some taxes and introduced others since 2023, most notably raising the service tax from 6 to 8 per cent last month.

Malaysians concerns tracked the global average, however, albeit with less worry locally about crime and violence.

“While key concerns of populations worldwide are generally similar, over half of Malaysians specifically point to financial and political correction as their primary concern.

“The worry over tax is another issue that has been steadily rising, particularly when compared to the same period last year,” the Ipsos executives said.

Quarterly consumer confidence has decreased from 54 per cent to 49 per cent throughout the past year, with a significant dip in the fourth quarter of 2023.

In contrast, the global average has remained constant, hovering between 48 and 49 per cent. Even though consumer confidence stabilised in the first two months of the year, it fell 4.2 per cent month-on-month in March.

“The declining optimism is reflected in consumer confidence, which follows a similar trend from Q1’23. As the hopeful months of the New Year have subsided, more Malaysians have become deeply concerned about their financial situation and are extremely apprehensive about spending,” said Menon and Poon.

The Ipsos survey is conducted monthly in 32 countries via an online portal system, with 500 Malaysians surveyed each time.