KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 — Despite the majority of Malaysians still unhappy over the direction of the country, an increased approval rating for Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin indicates increasing optimism for the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration, Merdeka Center suggested today.

“In our view, the survey indicates a West Malaysian electorate that is exhibiting some signs of optimism after the reopening of the economy along with the commencement of the vaccination rollout.

“This is manifested in the still strong approval for the prime minister and reasonable confidence in the handling of the pandemic and economy — despite the still stressed conditions voters report for their own personal financial conditions and their perception of the economy,” it said in a statement.

Its recent survey which polled 2,111 respondents from March 31 to April 12 showed that 41 per cent of them agreed the country is headed in the right direction, with 46 per cent disagreeing, and the rest unsure.

Across ethnicities, the positive responses came from 54 per cent of Malay respondents, 28 per cent of affirmatives from Indian respondents, and only 15 per cent of Chinese respondents agreeing the country is headed in the right direction.

However when juxtaposed against the general sentiment towards Muhyiddin’s leadership as prime minister, 67 per cent of respondents expressed satisfaction with him at the wheel, 30 per cent were dissatisfied, and three per cent undecided.

The last survey conducted in January saw Muhyiddin obtaining only a 63 per cent approval rating, with 50 per cent of respondents having disagreed with the country’s direction earlier this year.

As for the 46 per cent of respondents who did not think the country is heading in the right direction, their main concern is the general political instability, followed by the country’s economic performance with specific grouses such as rising cost of living, and employment.

These respondents also expressed worries towards the quality of administration in the government, with others issues being incompetent leaders and racial inequality.

In order of importance, these respondents listed economic concerns, the curbing of the Covid-19 pandemic, politics, racial issues, and leadership abilities as their top worries.

For the 41 per cent who agreed with the country’s direction, a majority of them revealed they felt the government is being administered well, and that the welfare of the people are being looked after.

A portion were also content with the gains and the favourable economic condition, a portion attributing their yes votes to the peace enjoyed in the country, and a few who agreed the current political situation is sufficiently stable. 

However, when quizzed specifically on the country’s economy,  68 per cent of respondents said they felt it has deteriorated, 19 per cent said it has improved, seven per cent who said nothing has changed, and the remaining unsure.

Across the board, the majority of respondents from be it racial groups, male and female participants, those with or without a college level education, even and those in urban and rural settings felt the economy is going through a decline.

Even respondents across different age categories, professions, and household income groups agreed that the declining country’s economy is experiencing a slump.

As for the government’s handling of the economy 51 per cent of respondents expressed satisfaction, with 43 per cent disagreeing with government’s handling.

When broken down into racial groups, 66 per cent of Malay respondents provided positive answers to the country’s management of the economy, 47 per cent of Indians agreeing, with only 17 per cent of Chinese respondents feeling the same.

But when tested across professions, most of the test groups consisting of those employed in the government of government-linked companies (66 per cent), those in the private sector (48 per cent) and the self employed (51 per cent) said they agreed with the government’s management of the economy.