The Sun Daily 11 March 2012

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s rise in approval rating, according to a recent survey, has been attributed to improving public mood over the general economy and the alleviation of the economic burden of low-income households.

His approval rating, which climbed to 69% compared to 59% six months earlier according to the survey by the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research, comes on the back of the Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia scheme through which funds have been disbursed to help low income households.

This is evident from the survey results which showed that support for him was highest among lower-income bracket, with an average 74.5% of survey participants with monthly household incomes below RM3,000 stamping their approval for him.

“The survey results show that Malaysians are happy with the ‘people first’ approach and Najib’s efforts to get to the ground,” Centre for Public Policy Studies chairman Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam told theSun today.

“However, they tend to associate all of this with Najib and not the government,” said Ramon, in reference to the survey finding that while Najib’s popularity rose, public perception of the government had however dropped 3% to 48% from 51% in December last year.

Commenting on the finding that Najib’s approval rating had strengthened and outpaced the government’s rating, Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs chief executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan said he believed it was an accurate reflection of what is happening on the ground.

“The fund disbursement is almost all linked to Najib because he is taking a personal interest,” he said.

“But he must make sure there is positive perception of his party if he wants to win in the next election,” warned Wan Saiful, adding that while the leader’s popularity is important, the critical factor when going to the polls is the rating of the party.

The survey found that positive feelings towards the government were higher among older voters and lowest among younger voters in that only 39% of voters under 30 years old were “happy” with the government compared to 54% among those aged above 60.

The Merdeka Centre also noted that while as many as a third of respondents who were inclined towards Pakatan Rakyat reported satisfaction with the prime minister – such expression of approval may not all translate into votes for the ruling coalition.

A total of 1,022 registered voters – 59% Malay, 32% Chinese and 9% Indian – from all states in the peninsula took part in the telephone survey conducted on the basis of random sampling along the lines of ethnicity, gender and state of residence from Feb 10 to 23.

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