KUALA LUMPUR: Half of Malaysians surveyed under the National Worry Index (NWI) are unsure whether the country’s future direction is on the right track.
The index – released by think-tank Emir Research – found a further 24% of Malaysians categorically saying the country’s future direction is on the wrong track.
“It is indeed very worrisome when only 24% of Malaysians
think that the government is a viable one while a sizeable proportion (46%) is unsure and 30% don’t
think that Pakatan Harapan is viable.
“This is in contrast with the past when a great majority of Malaysians were backing the then Pakatan opposition coalition in the 2018 General Election which led to a change in government, ” said the study entitled Pulse From the Ground: Voices and Expectations of the Rakyat.
Believed to be the first of its kind in Malaysia, the index gauged how worried people are at a national level.
It showed Malaysians are close to the maximum worry level, with an NWI score of 0.77 on a scale of 0 to 1.
The NWI found most are extremely worried about the economy, cost of living, jobs and security.
Bread-and-butter issues ranked high with 86% worried about the cost of basic needs and unaffordable homes, followed by lack of job opportunities at 77%.
Keeping Malaysians awake at night were also youth unemployment (76%), being in debt to sustain the cost of living (76%), corruption and power abuse (75%), and Sales and Service Tax (SST) failure to reduce living cost (75%).
This is followed by worrying about loss of source of income (74%), social issues (73%), crime rate (72%), national security (67%), reduction of agriculture subsidises (65%), quality of education and cost of public health services (both 63%).
The study, which polled some 2,000 respondents across Malaysia, also found the top concerns among the different races in Malaysia differed, with the Malays and other bumiputras being most worried about corruption and power abuse.
Meanwhile, Chinese and Indians were found to be more concerned about youth unemployment and lack of job opportunities respectively.
For the Indians, lack of job opportunities (75%), failure of SST to reduce the cost of living (68%) and social issues such as drug abuse (68%) were the top three sources of their worry.
When asked about the government’s plans and initiatives that were spoken about, the highest number of Malaysians gave a thumbs up to combating corruption in government agencies (64%).
This is followed by clean and efficient policy of civil servants (57%), East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project (49%), teaching Science and Mathematics in English (48%) and autonomy of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (46%).
The flying car project, recruitment of African labourers and allowing the Lynas plant to re-operate were the three government plans that received the lowest endorsement, at 19%, 10% and 24% respectively.
“The two most unpopular government initiatives from the perspective of the Malays and other bumiputras are keeping vernacular schools (47%) and an education system without vernacular schools (44%).
“For the Chinese, the teaching of khat calligraphy (13%) and an education system without vernacular schools (13%) are seen as the two most disagreeable government initiatives, ” it said.
The Indians agreed the most with the government combating corruption through enforcement agencies and teaching Science and Mathematics in English (both 44%) and having a clean and efficient policy of civil servants (36%).
There was importance in measuring the NWI as based on evidence from previous researches, worry was one of the factors contributing to the change of government last year, said researcher Prof Datuk Dr Mohamad Sahari Nordin (pic).
Prof Mohamad Sahari, who is with the International Islamic University of Malaysia’s education kulliyyah (faculty), noted that the study had limitations as it was the first NWI.
“We intend to do this on a quarterly basis starting next year so that we can track the changes across time, ” he said, presenting the research findings here yesterday.
Emir Research president and chief executive officer Datuk Dr Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff said the continuous research, which will continue beyond the 15th General Election, is aimed at helping shape the nation.
“It’s important for the government, policymakers and policy executioners to take notice and feel the pulse of the nation, ” he said.