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Media Conference Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 8th July 2009 at 12 noon: 

Congrats to Najib for chalking up 65% popularity rating from his first month of 45% as Prime Minister but he must be fully conscious that he has the lowest popularity rating of all six Malaysian Prime Ministers in the “First 100 Days”

Congrats to Datuk Seri Najib Razak for chalking up 65% popularity rating from his first month of 45% as Prime Minister but he must be fully conscious that he has the lowest popularity rating of all six Malaysian Prime Ministers – including his predecessors Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tun Hussein, Tun Mahathir and Tun Abdullah – in the “First 100 Days”.

In the latest poll conducted among 1,060 registered voters by the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research between June 19 and July 1, his approval rating has risen to 65 per cent as compared to 45 per cent in mid-May (a month after he became Prime Minister) and 42 per cent just before taking over the premiership from Tun Abdullah on April 3, 2009.

In the latest opinion poll, 22 per cent were dissatisfied with his performance while 13 per cent were undecided.

Seventy-four per cent of Malays polled were satisfied with his performance. The level of support among Chinese and Indians was 48 per cent and 74 per cent respectively.

Although Najib has cause to celebrate for his improved popularity ratings and attribute it to a growing number of Malaysians who like some of his policy initiatives and pronouncements, he will be making a grave error to ignore the fact that he has the lowest popularity rating of all Malaysian Prime Ministers on the “First 100 Days” which falls on Saturday, 11th July 2009 for him.

In his first year as Prime Minister, Abdullah’s popularity rating was at the high-water mark of 91% in November 2004, and if a poll had been conducted in Abdullah “First 100 Days” in February 2004, it would have been an stratospheric high of 97 or even 98%.

However, the grim lesson for Najib is that Abdullah’s dazzlingly-high popularity rating, which enabled the latter to sweep the 2004 general elections with an unprecedented victory in 91 per cent of the parliamentary seats, was drastically slashed and more than halved to 42% in July 2008, explaining the reason for the political tsunami of the March 8, 2008 general elections sweeping Barisan Nasional out of power in five states and depriving BN of its hitherto unbroken two-thirds parliamentary majority.

Two critical questions for Najib popularity ratings from future opinion polls are:

  • How high could Najib’s popularity rating reach and could it ever peak to Abdullah’s levels; and

  • When Najib’s popularity rating will begin a new descent.

If a popularity poll had been conducted on Najib’s full Hundred Days as Prime Minister, it would have to take into account two major events:

  • Najib’s announcement on June 30 on measures for the liberalisation of the economy which fall far short of moving the country towards an internationally competitive economy to face the challenges of globalisation; and

  • Scandal of the RM24 million Istana Khir Toyo, though the former Selangor Mentri Besar claimed it was only RM3.5 million.

Najib said the previous week that the Chinese in Malaysia are most concerned about education, economy, religion and crime and he believes that if these four issues can be resolved, the Chinese will continue to support the Barisan Nasional government.

It is not just the Chinese, but all Malaysians regardless of race, who are also concerned about these four issues of education, economy, religion and crime. What must be added are corruption and Malaysian citizenship rights.

Najib said yesterday that his 1Malaysia concept with the “People First, Performance Now” tagline is all about “every single Malaysian having the right place under the Malaysian sun”. He invited the people to give their views and ideas towards “achieving one dream, one people and one nation”.

For the past 43 years, I have been talking about a united Malaysia where every Malaysian, regardless of race, religion or territory, has a equal place under the Malaysian sun.

This is the first time I have heard a Prime Minister talking about ensuring the rightful place of every Malaysian under the Malaysian sun.

But it is not enough for such talk to emanate from Putrajaya as for more than four decades, advocacy of a united Malaysia where all Malaysians have an equal and rightful place under the Malaysian sun had been distorted, vilified and even demonised.

Can Najib inspire and convince Malaysians that his 1Malaysia can unite Malaysians and be translated into government policy and concrete action on the ground, making all Malaysians regardless of race or religion feel that they are one united people?

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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