LAST_UPDATETue, 15 May 2018 11am

Najib's Growing Popularity: Fact or Fiction?

On the June 8, an independent opinion research firm, Merdeka Center announced the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s approval rating which soared to 72 percent – a significant increase from 69 percent in April.


Interestingly enough the poll conducted from May 6 to May 16 showed the highest approval rating among the Indian community which is 80 percent followed by the Malays with 77 percent and the Chinese with 58 percent.

These figures also indicate a substantial uptrend since the Merdeka Center first started their survey on Najib’s popularity back in March 2009 just as he took over Putrajaya. His approval rating then was merely 44 percent.

The announcement of the approval rating received immediate responses from various parties. Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was among the first to voice his opinion by suggesting that maybe Najib can consider calling an early general election if it is true that his approval rating has ascended that much.


"Alhamdullilah (Praise be to God) if he has received (a rating of) 72 percent," he said, adding that it would be good to know who actually conducted the survey.

The former prime minister said it would have to be left to the government to decide whether to call the next general election earlier than 2013, when it is due. He also recalled the time when he had led the Barisan Nasional (BN) to an election victory to secure a two-third majority in parliament. At that time, he said his popularity rating was only 60 percent.


"But if it is 72 percent, we hope to be able to win more than a two-third majority. Perhaps, you (Najib) can call the elections now!" he added.


Najib’s approval rating actually plummeted sharply to 56 percent in September last year. This was in the wake of the cow head protest by mainly Umno members against the construction of a Hindu temple in Shah Alam. At the same time, there was also the tragic death of DAP aide, Teoh Beng Hock, while in the custody of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

The current poll showed that 50 percent of the respondents believed that Najib would be able to achieve his reform targets within two years, namely the 1Malaysia concept, the Government Transformation Plan and the New Economic Model.

About 52 percent of respondents agreed that the country was now heading in the right direction due to fast economic recovery and improving living quality. 63 percent and 56 percent are satisfied with the improvement in education and public transportation in urban areas respectively.

However, 22 percent of the respondents felt that the government should solve economic issues such as rising cost of living and prices of goods, unemployment and sugar shortages.


Perhaps the result of the Hulu Selangor by-election on the April 25 is proof that the poll is right when BN candidate from MIC, P. Kamalanathan won with a majority of 1,725 votes beating Pakatan Rakyat’s candidate from PKR and a former Umno member Datuk Zaid Ibrahim. The numbers from the Hulu Selangor clearly indicates the strong support from the Indian community for BN as reported by the survey.

The results of the Sibu by-elections on May 16 where Pakatan Rakyat’s candidate from DAP, Wong Ho Leng won with a majority of 398 beating BN’s candidate from SUPP, Robert Lau Hui Yew showed the dwindling support from the Chinese community for Najib’s administration as showed by the poll.

Najib’s initial proposal to legalise sports betting before the beginning of the FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010 drew quite a number of criticisms from both the Opposition and members of his own political party. The Umno Youth movement under the leadership of Khairy Jamaluddin made it clear on their stance against the proposal of legalising sports betting. During the Dewan Rakyat session Pasir Salak MP, Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman openly announced his disapproval of the controversial proposal. As a result on June 26, Najib made an announcement to scrap the idea citing that the decision is about the political impact and from the Islamic point of view.

Whether BN under Najib will fare better in the next General Election still remain unanswered as Najib himself is facing a number of ongoing issues namely the French investigation on the purchase of the Scorpene submarines from DCN, the Altantuya murder and the recent subsidy cuts on petrol and sugar. As announced, there will be more subsidy cuts in the future and quite a number of Malaysians are not taking it very well.

Najib announced that the next General Election will be a surprise. I, for one, am definitely hoping for a pleasant surprise indeed.

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