Malaysians Most Worried About Foreign Workers, Governance, Unemployment

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In an inaugural study titled ‘What Worries Malaysia’, Paris-based Ipsos, an independent global market and opinion research specialist, have found that the majority of Malaysians are most troubled by what they perceive as lax immigration control on foreign workers.

Who is worried about what:

  • Malays, rural dwellers, households with income below RM3k – most worried about lax immigration control on foreign workers
  • Higher income groups, the middle-class, Chinese – lose sleep over good governance, whether their money was spent in the most efficient manner by both the public and private sectors
  • Malays, single people, females, students, households with less than RM1,000 income – most concerned about unemployment

Ipsos Loyalty and Public Affairs director Arun Menon admitted that the results of the survey had come as a surprise, especially since immigration control or immigration of foreign workers had ranked tenth globally but ranked in first place for Malaysia.

The concern that came a close second was government and corporate conduct on governance, while the third greatest worry keeping Malaysians awake at night is unemployment.


The firm conducted the poll in tandem with its 26-country ‘What Worries the World’ monthly global study and surveyed 2,027 Malaysians aged between 15 and 64 years old through telephone interviews on their current concerns regarding the nation.

The Malaysian study revealed that Malay households with incomes below RM3,000 and those in rural areas were the most worried about uncontrolled immigration of foreign workers.

Ipsos loyalty and public affairs director Arun Menon said at the news conference to present the study findings yesterday that the worry in Malaysia is not racist in nature but stems from concern for their rice bowls.

The study also found that unemployment was the biggest worry among Malays, those who are single, females and students, as well as households earning less than RM1,000.

“Gen Z, those between the ages of 15 and 24, are also most concerned about unemployment. They are not finding jobs that fit their aspirations,” Arun said.

As for good governance and corporate conduct, this was a concern among the middle class and higher income groups in Malaysia, Ipsos Business Consulting (Malaysia, Singapore and Philippines) country head Kiranjit Singh said.

“Basically, the concern for this group was [whether] their money was spent in the most efficient manner, both by the public and private sectors; the good governance aspect was one of the concerns [most expressed by] middle-classed Malaysian Chinese.”