Photo: The Merdeka Center survey showed the government’s approval rating was at 39 per cent while Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s rating dropped 37 per cent to 46 per cent compared to last year. — Picture by Hari Anggara
KUALA LUMPUR — PKR leaders have said it is too soon to judge the Pakatan Harapan’s performance after a survey found a sharp decline in approval rating for the new government.
The Merdeka Center survey showed the government’s approval rating was at 39 per cent while Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s rating dropped 37 per cent to 46 per cent compared to last year.
“I believe some of the fruits of these policies will take time, especially those that are economic in nature,” PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil told the news portal, adding that the government had gone out of their way to help ailing institutions such as Tabung Haji and Felda.
The survey which recorded responses from 1,200 participants showed a drop in the approval rating for the economy to 40 per cent from 56 per cent last year.
PKR vice-president Tian Chua said it was not unusual to see a ratings drop in the first year of a government, giving the example of Indonesian President Joko Widodo who had a similar ratings drop from 75 per cent when he was elected to around 46 per cent in October according to reports online.
“It is natural. Political parties do not expect to please everyone. If we are populists, we cannot govern,” said Chua.
“To me, 46 per cent is considered good. Look at Jokowi. The first year will show low approval ratings. The opposite would be rare,” he said.
Another PKR vice president, Chang Lih Kang said the lower ratings were also due to them being held to a higher standard compared to the Barisan Nasional led government.
“Besides that, democratically elected government tend to implement unpopular policies in their first year as government,” said the Tanjung Malim lawmaker.
The survey also showed disapproval towards ideas such as abolishing the death penalty, sugar-tax, lowering the voting age and abolishing exams for lower primary school.
Fahmi said the government needs to find a way to communicate these concepts to the public more consistently and help the rakyat understand why it is pushing through with these policies.
“I have always believed in participatory and deliberative democracy, and have in Lembah Pantai conducted many town hall sessions to gather feedback and build consensus,” he told Malaysiakini.
“I believe the government can do more to listen to voters and engage them earlier in the policy-making process.”
Fahmi said through the increasing number of select committees in Parliament more MP’s will be able to scrutinise Bills and policies.
All three politicians however felt that the government shouldn’t adopt racial based politics and maintain their current course.
“People ditched BN for various reasons, including their infamous brand of racial politics. We should learn from the lessons,” Chang told Malaysiakini.
Chua also felt that negative reactions are normal as things that are good for the people cannot be put on hold.
“Some things that are good for society cannot be put on hold because of opposing views.
“We will encounter opposition — the Rome Statute or the abolishing of the death penalty for instance — even though we want to see things make our society better.
“Every new policy will have opponents. We can hear it more now because the press is freer,” he said.