KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said on Friday (Feb 1) that more needs to be done to placate Malay unhappiness with the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administraton.
She was responding to a survey by pollster Ilham Centre that the government's approval rating among Malay respondents was only slightly above 40 per cent.
The survey also found that 59.5 per cent of 2,614 Malay respondents did not approve of the government's performance in the first five months after last May's general election.
The worry among PH leaders over slippage in Malay support has arisen following the alliance's loss in the Jan 26 Cameron Highlands by-election, when the Malays mostly voted for Umno.
"We must listen to the woes and opinions of the people and take steps to see if their (disapproval) was real or imagined," Datuk Seri Wan Azizah told reporters, as quoted by Malay Malay online news on Friday (Feb 1). "The majority of Malaysians are Malays so when they say the majority of them (are unhappy), we have to take note and see what we can do to address it."
The four-party PH toppled Barisan Nasional, which is led by Malay nationalist party Umno, at the general election nearly nine months ago.
Dr Wan Azizah said PH is still adjusting its policies after winning power less than a year ago.
"Coming in as a new government following a change in 60 years, there are adjustments that need to be done and only now we are able to find out," she said.
"We take note of that and find ourselves wanting to do what is popular yet having to consider what the country needs," she said, as quoted by Malay Mail.
There were murmurs of unhappiness among Malays when, soon after the general election, PH appointed an ethnic Chinese as finance minister (Lim Guan Eng, and non-Malays as de facto law minister (Liew Vui Keong) and also the attorney-general (Tommy Thomas).
There also appeared to be unease among Malays about the intentions of PH over the longstanding Bumiputera policy that gives them priority in education, business and housing.
Added to this is the race-baiting often employed by the two main opposition parties, Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia, with PH often depicted as being dictated by the Chinese-led Democratic Action Party (DAP).
The Ilham Centre survey showed that more than 60 percent of the respondents believed that non-Muslims were now in control of the government and that DAP was calling the shots in Putrajaya, according to a report in The Malaysian Insight online news.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, asked on Monday (Jan 28) about the loss in Cameron Highlands, said people in the rural ward need help on managing cost-of-living issues.
"We must find ways to reduce the cost of living, as well as to help them earn a better income," he told reporters.
Datuk Kadir Jasin, the Prime Minister's media and communications adviser, said the ruling alliance is in "clear and present" danger following the Cameron Highlands beating.
"So be forewarned. If the people could vote the PH in, they could also vote the PH out," Kadir said on his blog on Tuesday.