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Survey: Over half of Malaysians viewed Putrajaya’s handling of Covid-19 as dismal, worse last year

The Malaysian government had declared a state of emergency on January 12 last year to curb the spread of Covid-19 which lasted until August 1, 2021. – Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 17 — Putrajaya’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis was rated negatively by Malaysians respondents in a recent regional survey, with 51.8 per cent labelling the government’s response as “poor” or “very poor”.

The perception over the government’s response also deteriorated sharply, with 24.4 per cent of respondents rating it “very poor” for the 2022 report by the Singapore-based Asean Studies Centre at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, compared to 0.9 per cent in the 2021 report.

In comparison, just 10.4 per cent of respondents rated the response as “well” and 22.2 per cent said it was “adequate” in 2022.

This was also a decline compared to the result in 2021 when there had been 14.5 per cent for “well” and 40.2 per cent for “adequate”.

Regionally, the survey showed that Bruneians were almost unanimous in their support of their government’s handling with 98.1 per cent rating their government as doing “well” or “adequate”, followed by Singaporeans at 87.8 per cent with the same sentiments.

Malaysia was only second in the country where a proportion of respondents rated the governmental response as “very poor”, after Cambodia where 83.1 per cent of respondents said so.

“Perhaps due to the Delta variant that wreaked havoc in the region in 2021, disapproval of regional governments’ Covid-19 handling increased from 23.8 per cent in 2021 to 30.6 per cent in 2022.

“The share of respondents who said that their governments performed very poorly more than doubled from 7.1 per cent to 15.9 per cent. Those who felt that their governments performed well or adequately dropped by ten percentage points from 61.0 per cent to 51.0 per cent.

“The share of fence sitters who were neutral about their government’s handling of the pandemic saw a slight increase from 15.2 per cent to 18.4 per cent,” it said.

Daily Covid-19 cases for Malaysia previously peaked August 26 last year after the Health Ministry announced that the country detected 24,599 new cases in a single day.

This was eclipsed yesterday when Malaysia reported 27,831 new infections.

The Malaysian government had declared a state of emergency on January 12 last year to curb the spread of Covid-19 which lasted until August 1, 2021; such a measure under the Federal Constitution has not been used for several decades.

The survey conducted between November 11 and December 31, 2021 had involved 1,677 respondents, with 8.1 per cent of them from Malaysia. Most of the respondents were academics, from think tanks, or research institutions.

Established in 1968, the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute is a regional centre dedicated to the study of socio-political, security, and economic trends and developments in South-east Asia and its wider geostrategic and economic environment.

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