Malaysians want Third Vote but skeptical about real change, CENBET survey shows
Monday, January 20, 2020

Download findings summary here

PETALING JAYA, 20 Jan 2020 - Almost 60 per cent of Malaysians polled in a recent survey want the government to revive local elections, although they are doubtful this will lead to significant improvements in their lives.

While 58 per cent of the respondents are in favour of bringing back the Third Vote, some 67 per cent think this will lead to more red tape while 59 per cent feel this will not help solve the problems plaguing the country.

The survey, commissioned by the Centre For A Better Tomorrow (CENBET), an advocacy group for moderation and good governance, was carried out in November last year involving 1,000 respondents living in Peninsular Malaysia.

This survey goes beyond polling on simplistic like or dislike of bringing back local government election. It draws out people’s perception on the pros and cons of bringing back local government election, and also throws light on the people’s political literacy level concerning the three tiers of government.

The survey showed that respondents were having conflicting views over the possible impact of reviving elections in local councils - last held in the 1960s before they were abolished.

“Our survey had asked respondents to identify the areas of jurisdictions for the Federal, State and Local Governments. Only 19 per cent scored more than two-thirds on questions relating to the roles of the various levels of governments,” said CENBET Co-President Gan Ping Sieu.

The survey also showed that only 43 per cent of the respondents were satisfied with the performance of their local authorities. The Chinese were the most unhappy, with only 31 per cent from the community giving their respective local authorities the thumbs up, followed by the Indians (45 per cent) and Malays (47 per cent).

Gan, who announced the findings in a media conference here today, said the conflicting opinions appears to be a sign of confusion and an expression of political fatigue.

Despite the low satisfaction, there was a significant increase in trust in local governments compared with the year before. CENBET’s early 2018 survey on trust in public institutions showed that only 38 per cent trusted their local authorities. Last November, it was 55 per cent.

Gan said CENBET decided to carry out the survey on the Third Vote following last year’s poll findings which showed poor public satisfaction with local governments.

“Restoring local elections is in keeping with the Federal government’s electoral pledges. Bringing back the Third Vote will enlarge the democratic space and is in line with the practices of many developed democracies.

“To ensure that we reap the benefits of re-enacting local elections, the government needs to step up efforts to enhance political literacy among Malaysians,” Gan added.

He said CENBET will be submitting a memorandum on the survey findings to the Prime Minister and the Housing and Local Government Minister as input for the government’s efforts to bring back local elections.

CENBET had commissioned WAYY Consulting, an independent research and strategy consulting firm to carry out the survey. The online survey was carried out in accordance with the guidelines and standards of the International Chamber of Commerce and the Esomar Code of Practice. Both are globally accepted standards in the fields of market, opinion and social research, and data analytics.


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