Study Reveals That Majority of Malays Unhappy with PH but Have Hope

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Five months after Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over Putrajaya, nearly 60% of Malays were dissatisfied with the new government’s performance, a joint survey by pollster Ilham Centre and think-tank Penang Institute showed.

Many Malays believe:

  • The government not serious about “Malay agenda”, including upholding Malay rights and Islam as official religion, fulfilling election manifesto, dealing with cost of living problems
  • Non-Muslims now in control of the government, with DAP calling the shots

But they also believe:

  • PH is not trying to end the monarchy
  • The ruling coalition would last more than just one term
  • It could carve a better future for the country
  • The government is doing a good job battling corruption, and is serious about eradicating graft and instituting a culture of integrity
  • They disagreed Dr Mahathir should serve out a five-year term as PM instead of handing over the reins to Anwar as originally planned
  • They agreed Anwar was the best person to replace Dr Mahathir as PM

The survey of 2,614 Malay respondents in the country, including Sabah and Sarawak, found that a high number did not believe that the government was serious about the “Malay agenda”, including upholding Malay rights and Islam as the official religion.

More than 60% of respondents believed non-Muslims were now in control of the government and that PH component DAP – a multiracial party with the second-most number of parliamentary seats in the coalition – was calling the shots in Putrajaya.

The findings dovetail with earlier studies which showed that PH faced a credibility crisis with Malays, having captured only 17% of their votes in the 14th general election.

However, despite their misgivings, more than half of those surveyed also believed that PH would last more than just one term and that it could carve a better future for the country.

“The Islamic narrative that PH promotes is difficult for Malays to digest as the philosophy is too deep,” said Ilham Centre research director Dr Mohd Yusri Ibrahim on PH’s pluralistic, progressive Islamic agenda.

“To win over the Malays, the government must portray itself as conservative and centrist, not progressive or right-wing conservative like PAS or Umno.”

The survey polled the opinions of a wide cross-section of Malays on a spectrum of issues, such as social mobility, religiosity, democracy and authoritarianism, Malay nationalism, religious conservatism, education, the economy and the government.

The survey was conducted via face-to-face questionnaire between October 24 and December 24.

When it came to their opinion of the government, respondents were generally dissatisfied at a whole range of issues.

Among the findings were:

  • 59.5% of respondents disagreed they were satisfied with the performance of the government since GE14, versus 40.8% who agreed
  • 54.4% agreed the PH government was ignoring Malay rights and Islam interests, while 45.1% disagreed
  • 50.1% thought that PH was not serious about fulfilling its election manifesto as compared with 49.8% who said they were serious
  • 58.3% believed that the federal government was not serious in dealing with cost of living problems

A majority of respondents also seemed to buy into the Umno-PAS narrative that PH was being controlled by the DAP and was espousing liberal values. These findings include:

  • 62.9% who agreed that non-Muslims now controlled the federal government after May 9, versus 37.2% who disagreed;
  • 62% believed that the DAP dominated the government’s decisions over other PH component parties while 38% did not;
  • 58.9% thought that the federal government was being driven by a liberal agenda versus 41.1% who disagreed.
  • On the matter of the PH leadership, 53.6% disagreed with the idea that Dr Mahathir Mohamad should serve out a five-year term as prime minister instead of handing over the reins to PH de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim as originally planned.
  • Also, 51.9% agreed that Anwar, who had been Dr Mahathir’s successor-turned-nemesis-turned partner again, was the best person to replace the 93-year-old as prime minister.
  • Both have repeatedly pledged to abide by the promise, but no time frame has been set on the handover.
  • A bright spot for PH is that respondents gave the government the thumbs-up in the battle against corruption with 64.2% saying the government is serious about eradicating graft and instituting a culture of integrity.
  • Also, 53.2% disagreed with the notion that PH is trying to end the system of Malay rulers as compared with 46.8%.
  • Although they are critical of PH’s performance thus far, more respondents (54.4%) thought they saw a future for Malaysia under the coalition compared with those who did not (45.6%).
  • And despite what PH’s critics said, 52.3% versus 47.7% disagreed with the notion that the coalition will only last one term. – TMI