Analysts Call For Patience Amid Lower Malaysia Government Confidence Figures

Mahathir bin Mohamad
New Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, May 11, 2018. (Photo: REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo)

One year after Malaysia saw Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad take over the seat of former Prime Minister Najib Razak, a new poll revealed that Malaysians now have lower confidence in the government under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.

According to Reuters, Merdeka Center's latest poll indicated that government support from Malaysian citizens dropped to 39 percent in March and Mahathir's popularity among the masses saw a deep dive at 46 percent.

The independent polling group warned that Malay Muslims who account for around 60 percent of the country's overall population, were largely critical of the new Prime Minister. However, Mahathir has said that he doesn't have a lot of confidence in poll figures.

To address accusations from the opposition that he failed to bring the best out of the previously corruption-ridden country, Mahathir reminded the masses on Thursday that his government poured efforts in cleaning up the previous administration's debts.

"Our attention is directed at correcting all the mistakes of the previous government. That has taken much of our time," Mahathir said during a media briefing on Thursday.

Despite a fading effect on Malaysia's hopes for an economic rebound under Mahathir's regime, some analysts argued that the masses should take into consideration the 93-year-old revolutionary's regime that took over an already weak economy, the Straits Times reported.

"To be fair, Mahathir inherited a fragile fiscal balance sheet and a ballooning debt burden that was worse than expected," economist at Maybank Kim Eng Research, Hak Bin Chua pointed out.

Other experts further explained that Mahathir's Wednesday speech made a clear point about the misconception that Malaysians have about the government. Economic analysts said the country should not dwell on impatience and work with the government to achieve success and apparent change.

On another end, some experts said they understand why Malaysia is generally upset or disappointed over the lack of economic growth under the Mahathir administration. However, they said even in other economies, it is impossible for an "immediate" change to be felt.

In an interview with CNBC News, parliament member Tony Pua noted that high expectations are okay but the government needs more time to achieve its targets. He said "an immediate turnaround in the economy" can't easily be attained anywhere in the world.

Following the release of results from the Merdeka Center poll, economists said Mahathir should try to address the masses' concerns. These include issues with racial discrimination through which multiple debates stemmed from.

Social Sciences lecturer from Universiti Sains Malaysia, Azmil Tayeb, said the PH government should also try to revamp the way it gets the favor of citizens on social media. Mahathir has also been urged to address fears over the lack of foreign investments in the country.

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