KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's Pakatan Harapan (PH) ruling coalition is fast losing the support of Malaysians in their 20s less than a year after taking power, a year-long study shows.
The study, conducted by market research firm Kajidata Research, tracked the political leanings of 9,071 Malaysians aged 21 years old and above between Jan 1 and Dec 1 last year, the Malay Mail reported on Friday (April 5).
The data showed that overall satisfaction with PH had slipped by 16.4 percentage points as of December. The biggest fall was recorded among those aged 20 to 29, at 20.6 points, the Malay Mail said.
According to Kajidata, the decline was in tandem with sliding economic confidence in PH, from a score of 39.3 points recorded during the general election in May 2018 to 32.8 just eight months later in December.
Again, the biggest fall was seen among those aged 20 to 29, at 13.7 points, according to data from the Malay Economic Action Council (MTEM) Economic Confidence Score and cited by Kajidata, reported the Malay Mail.
"The large drop within the youth bracket suggests that they may have become disillusioned with Pakatan Harapan's management of the national economy," Kajidata was quoted as saying in a report accompanying the study results.
"Our indicators now reveal that the youth, who before GE14 were the most likely to support Pakatan Harapan, have now become the group that is most likely to oppose it.
"The younger generation is now the least satisfied with Pakatan Harapan in addition to having the lowest economic confidence."
The research firm cited PH's reversals on the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) issue, notably delayed repayments to graduates, as a likely cause of youth discontent. But it cautioned that further research was needed to identify the factors behind PH's loss of support.
In contrast, young Malaysians' perception of the opposition Barisan Nasional, which was defeated by PH in the general election, has become more positive since September, Kajidata was cited by the Malay Mail as saying.
Kajidata said PH needs to address this decline in youth support before the next general election due in 2022, as young voters are among the biggest fence-sitters who have yet to solidify their political allegiances.
"It is critical for Pakatan Harapan to address the drop in youth support, as it is not countervailed by an increase in support of undecided voters or older voters who are more likely to remain with Barisan Nasional.
"It is imperative that Pakatan Harapan understand in detail why the youth have turned away from the coalition and what can be done to win them back," Kajidata said.
Kajidata's study was conducted through computer-aided telephone interviews across 222 parliamentary constituencies, including in Sabah and Sarawak, from Jan 1 to Dec 1, 2018.
The sample of respondents was representative of the racial composition in each state.