Malaysia: Voters’ gripes about rising prices a key Malaysia election issue – 5 Jun 2017

  • With the general election due in 15 months and complaints over rising costs getting louder, the enforcement by the governing Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition is timely.
  • Worryingly for BN, which has ruled South-east Asia’s third biggest economy since independence in 1957, inflation hit an eight-year high in Jan 17 and kept climbing up to Mar 17. Many blame the 6% goods and services tax (GST) introduced in 2015 for rising prices, and a weaker ringgit for pushing up the costs of imports.
  • Malaysia’s top pollster, Merdeka Centre, found that economic concerns were foremost on the minds of 74% of voters, far ahead of well-documented ethnic and political discord, at 3% and 2% respectively.
  • Its survey results from Mar 17 showed that inflation was the most important issue for six out of 10 Malaysians, and for more than three-quarters of Muslims, who make up two-thirds of the electorate. The government insists that it has contained inflation. Since Prime Minister Najib took power in 2009, annual inflation has crept over 3% only twice.
  • But the other half of the cost of living equation is income. Per capita annual income has dropped from USD10,345 to USD8,821 since Datuk Seri Najib’s narrow 2013 election victory – a sharp 15% slide.

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