Malaysia

Poll shows divided Malays

By Adib Zalkapli
July 09, 2010

Najib has been forced to back down on planned reforms to protect Umno’s Malay backing. — file picNajib has been forced to back down on planned reforms to protect Umno’s Malay backing. — file pic

The poll by the independent Merdeka Center released today also found a majority of Malays surveyed — 70 per cent — felt that corruption among the community's leaders was the main threat to the Malay/Bumiputera political position as opposed to "demands made by other races in the country."

The results of this latest survey suggest Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) still has its work cut out in their bid to win back lost support since Election 2008.

Umno's leadership has been particularly sensitive about the Malay ground even as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak continues to push his reform agenda.

Najib has been forced to hold back several drastic reforms to affirmative action policies because many within Umno are convinced the majority of Malays will return to the party if it becomes more strident in protecting Malay interests.

But the latest Merdeka Center survey showed that the Malays were equally split on government assistance programmes with 45 per cent of them believing that it only benefits the rich and politically connected.

About 48 per cent of the Malays surveyed believed that such programmes have benefited the ordinary public.

The poll was conducted between January 21 and April 26 to gauge public attitudes towards a number of issues such as national unity, integrity, democratic participation and affirmative action, said Merdeka Center in a statement.

It added that a total of 3141 Malaysians aged 19 and above were interviewed nationwide, comprising 51 per cent Malays, 26 per cent Chinese, seven per cent Indian, nine per cent other Muslim Bumiputeras and seven per cent non-Muslim Bumiputeras.

The survey also showed that 59 per cent of the Malays and Bumiputeras believed that special privileges should continue to be accorded to them by virtue of being the original inhabitants of the country.

But up to 40 per cent of the Malay respondents said that all Malaysians should receive equal treatment regardless of race or religion.

The survey results also indicated that the non-Malays were almost split on the Najib administration's national unity agenda with 46 per cent of the respondents believing that the 1 Malaysia concept is only a political agenda to win the non-Malay votes.

Only 39 per cent of the non-Malays believed that the concept introduced by Najib after he took over the government was a sincere effort to unite all races in Malaysia.

Some 16 per cent of the non-Malays chose not to respond to the question.

Malaysians were also almost equally divided on the state of national unity with 48 per cent of those surveyed believing that citizens are more united now while 43 per cent believed that the country was more divided.