Over 80pct of M'sians optimistic about country's future: IIUM study


KUALA LUMPUR: As the country prepares to celebrate the 61st National Day tomorrow, Malaysians from all walks of life seem to have one thing in common – they are optimistic about the country’s future.

A periodic study on Merdeka and current issues, conducted by Prof Datuk Seri Syed Arabi Idid of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) this year, found that about 95 per cent of respondents are ‘proud’ to be Malaysian – the same level recorded when the study was first conducted in 2009.

“(Pride in being) Malaysian cuts across race, age and educational level and the same feeling extends to the people of Sabah and Sarawak,” said Syed Arabi.

On Malaysia’s future, all races show great optimism (above 80 per cent) during the period of study from June to August this year, compared with the same period in 2017 (about 70 per cent).

“It is the middle-age group (36-50) and the young (21-35) who expressed the highest optimism, with the two groups expecting the most from the new government in charting the future of the country,” he said to Bernama, adding that there is not much change in the view of the older group (51 and above).

Syed Arabi’s study was coordinated by Azrul Hisyam Wakichan and involved 1,500 respondents throughout the country who took part in face-to-face interviews. The respondents were chosen based on population density, racial composition, different educational backgrounds, age group, gender and location.

As it is the first time the country will be celebrating Merdeka under a new government after the Barisan Nasional (BN), which ruled since independence was voted out in favour of Pakatan Harapan (PH), the study also looked at sentiments on the new government from May to August.

“When asked which party the respondents would vote for if elections were held tomorrow, more than half answered Pakatan Harapan (PH),” said Syed Arabi, who is also the head of the IIUM Electoral Studies Research Unit.

He pointed out that in May this year, the study found that only 50 per cent of the respondents indicated PH as their choice, but when asked again in August, the figure went up by five per cent.

Popularity-wise, PH still has to cover more ground among the Malays whose support for PH increased only marginally, from 40 to 42 per cent, during the period.

Some 62 per cent of respondents said they are satisfied with the new government, with the Chinese (74 per cent) and Indians (65 per cent) being the most satisfied; while the Malays expressed the least satisfaction (52 per cent).

Interestingly, the middle-age and older-age groups appear to be more satisfied than the younger group, which probably had very high expectations, Syed Arabi added. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd