Poll: More see Malaysia on right track, believe Pakatan would have done worse with Covid-19

(MMO) – Nearly two in five respondents of an Emir Research poll said the country was on the correct trajectory, up sharply from the end of 2019.

According to the research titled Pulse From the Ground: Emir Research Quarterly Poll  for Third Quarter 2020 ― Part 1, this figure was now 38 per cent versus 26 per cent in the final quarter last year.

“When the country was under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration, we see that there is a six-percentage point drop in respondents who believe the county’s future direction is on the right track ― from 26 per cent (fourth quarter 2019) to 20 per cent (first quarter 2020).

“(Compared to the) third quarter 2020 poll when the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government was already in power for five months, 38 per cent of Malaysians who believe the country is moving on the right track,” Emir Research said in a statement.

The research house said participants of its focus group discussions (FGDs) in July consistently reiterated the belief that Malaysia would be worse off if PH were still in power.

“Many of the FGD participants expressed the feeling the country is in better and more capable hands than before.

“This relates to their appraisal of the current government actions especially in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences such as closing the country’s borders, distributing aid packages that include cash-assistance, deferred loan repayments, deducted rentals, etc.,” Emir Research said.

Fewer respondents also saw the country was on the wrong path now, with just 8 per cent holding this view versus 24 per cent in fourth quarter 2019 and 25 per cent in first quarter 2020 when PH was still the government.

On the economy, Emir Research found that despite the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting economic harm, 31 per cent of respondents in the current survey believed the economy was on strong footing.

“This compares with 26 per cent who said so in the fourth quarter 2019 poll, when there was no Covid-19, and a reduced 19 per cent who said so in first quarter 2020,” it said.

By ethnicity, Bumiputera in Sabah and Sarawak were the most likely to see the country as on the right track (47 per cent) followed by the Malays (42 per cent).

“Conversely, the non-Bumiputera seem to be pessimistic as the majority of them are unsure about the current and future conditions,” the research agency said.

As for rural-urban divide, Emir Research said urban respondents have grown significantly less optimistic than the first edition of the poll in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Since the start of 2020, rural respondents were more likely than their urban counterparts to express confidence in the economy.

“More rural folks (44 per cent) are optimistic that the country’s economy is on a strong footing compared with the urbanites (26 per cent).

“(This is) a significant 18 per cent difference,” Emir Research said.

Emir Research acknowledged that since the FGD was conducted in July and the survey in August, the poll does not take into account the current events such as the third wave of Covid-19 infections and political instability.

Emir Research is led by Datuk Rais Hussin who was recently appointed as Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation chairman.