As the new government took over, Malaysians expected reforms in areas including economic management, governance and anti-corruption efforts — aspects in which the previous government seemingly under-delivered, according to Cheng. But the people have been disappointed so far, one national poll showed.
The latest survey of Malaysian voters by research firm Merdeka Center found that the approval rating of the new government has plunged from 79% in end-May 2018 — shortly after the election — to 39% in March this year.
Tony Pua, a Malaysian member of parliament from the ruling coalition, said he isn’t surprised that people are unhappy. The economy and rising costs of living were big factors at play during last year’s election.
“I think it is understandable that people are not happy because they’re expecting, or they have very high expectations for, an immediate turnaround in the economy — which is not possible given the current economic climate around the world,” he told CNBC.
It’s not just the government that Malaysians are unhappy with. Public satisfaction with current Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad also dived from 83% to 46% during the same period, according to the same survey.
The 93-year-old Mahathir, who was prime minister from 1981 to 2003, returned to politics partly because of the 1MDB scandal to lead Pakatan Harapan against the coalition he once headed. Many political analysts attributed Pakatan’s election success to Mahathir’s appeal to the majority Malay race, especially among conservative voters in the rural heartlands.