KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said yesterday that more needs to be done to reduce Malay unhappiness with the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration.
She was responding to a survey by pollster Ilham Centre showing that the government's approval rating among Malay respondents was 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 rose following the alliance's loss in the Jan 26 Cameron Highlands by-election, when the Malays mostly voted for opposition party 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 yesterday.
"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, led by Malay nationalist party Umno, at the general election nearly nine months ago. Dr Wan Azizah said the young PH government is still adjusting its policies.
"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 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 found that more than 60 per cent of the respondents believed that non-Muslims are now in control of the government and that PH is a puppet of the DAP's interests, according to a report in The Malaysian Insight online news.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, responding to the survey, rejected the findings.
"I have never been a puppet yet," he was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper.
"I talked to many Malays. It is not 60 per cent (of Malays against PH). There is a small percentage, but not 60 per cent".
Datuk Kadir Jasin, the Prime Minister's media and communications adviser, wrote on his blog on Tuesday: "Be forewarned. If the people could vote the PH in, they could also vote the PH out."