PM Mahathir dismisses survey finding that support for Pakatan has plunged to 38%

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad speaking at the UN headquarters in New York City, on Sept 27, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

SUBANG JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Sunday (Oct 6) brushed off a survey by Merdeka Center that support among Malaysians for the ruling coalition has plunged to 38 per cent.

The survey's findings by the local pollster were presented at a retreat with Pakatan Harapan (PH- presidential council members and MPs at a hotel in Subang Jaya, Selangor.

A similar survey by Merdeka in August last year showed that 66 per cent of Malaysians were happy with the PH government.

"There are groups that say that the people's support to Pakatan has dropped to 38 per cent from 80 per cent," Tun Mahathir told reporters after attending the retreat.

"I do not know from where they got the number but I myself know that many people still want to shake my hands and take pictures with me. Also others (Pakatan leaders) when they go anywhere, people want to take pictures with them.

The PH presidential consists of the most senior leaders of the four-party governing coalition.

About 130 PH MPs and from its ally Parti Warisan Sabah also attended the retreat.

"I think at the parliament level, we still have support, so we are not going to be ousted or pulled down," the 94-year old premier added.

"In the last election, those people who said they were great experts on finding out people's opinions said we were going to lose but we won."

The one-day retreat was held to facilitate a two-way dialogue between PH leaders and the MPs. PH has a total of 130 MPs, with nine more from Warisan and one federal lawmaker from PH's post-election Sabah ally Upko.

The Merdeka Center survey about the punging popularity was leaked to the media after it was presented in private at the retreat.

PH has for months been battling perceptions that it has been losing public support since winning the May general election last year.

The coalition is grappling with bread-and-butter issues such as the cost of living and a slowing economy, amid grumblings by the Malay majority that PH's policies have weakened their centrality in Malaysian politics.

The recent formal alliance by the two biggest Malay Muslim parties - Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) - could erode further support for PH.

A Nov 16 by-election in Tanjung Piai in southern Johor is expected give a clearer idea on voter backing for PH and the Umno-PAS alliance.

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