KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 — Malaysians of diverse ages, races, religions and classes share a common tendency to fret, according to EMIR Research’s inaugural National Worry Index (NWI).
It put Malaysians as 0.77 on a scale of 0 to 1, with greater figures indicating greater tendencies for worrying.
“In order to have a simple understanding, anything that goes over 0.5 and beyond is somewhat excessive as far as the worry levels are, and right now Malaysians are in the maximum worry level,” International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) Professor Datuk Mohamad Sahari Nordin, who was part of the research team on the NWI, said during a news conference here to share its findings.
However, he added that the sentiments were not permanent and may fluctuate over time, adding that the “maximum worry” was not dire enough to be called a “sickness” just yet.
The firm polled 1,992 respondents of various races, creeds, income levels and educational backgrounds. The survey found that Malaysians were most likely to worry about the economy, security, living costs and their jobs.
According to the findings, the top three reasons that keep Malaysians awake at night are: cost of basic needs (86 per cent), unaffordable homes (86 per cent), and lack of job opportunities (77 per cent).
“Four out of five Malaysians are worried about cost of basic needs and the price of housing and more than three quarters of Malaysians think that SST failed to reduce living costs,” said Tunku Mohar Tunku Mohd Mokhtar, IIUM associate professor of its Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences Faculty.
SST refers to the sales and services tax brought back by the Pakatan Harapan government to replace the unpopular 6 per cent goods and services tax introduced by the previous Najib administration in April 2015.
“It’s because they are worried about being in debt to sustain cost of living and youth unemployment,” Tunku Mohar added.
In a demographic breakdown, EMIR Research said 83 per cent of Malays and Bumiputera cited a lack of job opportunities and youth unemployment as their top concerns.
For ethnic Chinese, their top three sources of worry are youth unemployment (67 per cent, failure to reduce cost of living (67 per cent) and lack of job opportunities (66 per cent).
For ethnic Indians, lack of job opportunities was their top worry at 75 per cent, followed by failure to reduce living costs and SST (68 per cent), and in third place, social issues such as drug abuse (68 per cent).
EMIR Research’s data also showed that youth joblessness was the top concern for 82 per cent of Malaysians aged 31 and above.
Slightly lower on their worry radar were corruption and power abuse (81per cent), social issues (79 per cent) and the crime rate (78 per cent).
EMIR Reseach announced that from next year, it will increase the frequency of its poll to quarterly and broaden the scope of questions to also cover health care.