Think tank survey shows 42pc approval rating for PM Anwar post six state elections; highest score from Chinese Malaysians at 88pc

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 25 — A recent poll conducted by local think tank Ilham Centre has shed light on public sentiment surrounding Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s performance following the conclusion of elections in six states two weeks ago.

According to the survey, Anwar received an overall approval rate of 42 per cent among respondents from the six states that recently held their state elections.

The think tank noted that his highest support was from Chinese Malaysians who gave Anwar an approval rating of 88 per cent followed by ethnic Indians at 81 per cent and other ethnic groups at 75 per cent.

In contrast, the Malay community displayed lower satisfaction, resulting in a 24 per cent approval rating.

The survey also delved into perceptions regarding the country’s direction under Anwar’s leadership.

Approximately 41 per cent of respondents from Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah, Penang, Selangor, and Negeri Sembilan believed that Malaysia is headed in the right direction under his guidance.

Moreover, 40 per cent of participants expressed optimism that Anwar is able to build trust within the Malay community to garner support for his unity government consisting of four major coalitions nationwide — Pakatan Harapan (PH), Barisan Nasional (BN), Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS).

Ilham Centre noted that the survey results were influenced by responses from states held by Perikatan Nasional (PN) and its component party PAS — Kedah, Kelantan, and Terengganu — where satisfaction levels with Anwar were relatively lower.

During the survey presentation, Muhamad Hisommudin Bakar, the executive director of Ilham Centre, highlighted certain factors impacting these perceptions.

In some regions, the federal Opposition candidates failed to emphasise local issues in Parliament, leading voters to opt for familiarity during the elections.

Furthermore, the survey indicated that PN effectively dominated the social media sphere, leaving many respondents, especially young individuals, unaware of the government’s initiatives and announcements.

“In Kelantan the Opposition bloc does not bring up local issues enough in Parliament, this despite the people wanting change there as after 33 years they feel the state can do better. But when they didn’t know the opposing candidates well and PN’s campaign surrounding national issues, they were caught up in the wave and eventually voted for the same people again,” Hisommudin said.

“We also found PN winning the social media battle and most respondents, especially youngsters we spoke, to weren’t aware of any of the government’s initiatives to help the states — like the paddy subsidies — despite Anwar making these announcements.

“The message gets lost or stuck somewhere so credit where due is not received especially in the opposition states like Terengganu and Kelantan,” he added.

The study also explored voters’ inclinations towards different political coalitions.

While 37 per cent of respondents expressed their willingness to shift their votes to PH-BN alliance due to Anwar’s leadership, only 33 per cent believed in his ability to defend Malay rights. Notably, 45 per cent claimed to understand Anwar’s Madani concept.

The survey’s findings reflected a divided sentiment about the economy under Anwar’s administration, with 55.3 per cent disagreeing that it was on the path to recovery.

Additionally, 69.2 per cent believed there was a lack of political stability under the unity government, and 57.7 per cent felt the government was ineffective in preventing corruption.

More than half, or 56.5 per cent of respondents perceived the previous government as more competent than the current one.

Hisommudin observed that the mindset of voters played a significant role in party preferences, with Umno supporters hesitating to vote for a PH candidate due to scepticism, while PH supporters displayed more openness to BN candidates.

“So what’s stopping Umno supporters from voting for PH? It’s the mindset,” said Hisomuddin.

“We found Umno voters sceptical of voting for a PH candidate whereas PH supporters seemed more open to voting for a BN candidate.

“In addition the PM losing out to the Opposition on the Malay-Muslim rhetoric also played a part in the indecision of voters,” he said.

In terms of regional variations, voters in Kelantan (73 per cent) and Terengganu (55 per cent) prioritised Malay-Muslim interests over governmental performance, unlike the other four states where good governance was the primary concern.

In summary, Ilham Centre’s survey data indicated that Anwar’s approval was higher in PH-BN states, but more nuanced among Malays.

The PN’s narrative regarding the protection of Malay-Muslim rights appeared to wield more influence in Malay-majority areas.

The survey encompassed 2,416 respondents in its first series, conducted from July 11 to July 27, 2023, and 2,304 respondents in its final phase from July 29 to August 8, 2023.

Ilham Centre said its participants included a diverse demographic, spanning different age groups.

The survey indicated that participants were distributed across various age groups, with 11 per cent falling within the 18-20 bracket, 22 per cent in the 21-29 range, 21 per cent among those aged 30-39, 18 per cent within the 40-49 category, 16 per cent belonging to the 50-59 demographic, and 13 per cent aged 60 and above.