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Feb 12, 2008

Bread and butter matters

PETALING JAYA: The cost of living, social issues, the crime rate and illegal immigrants - these are the issues that matter most to Malaysian voters, according to a survey conducted ahead of the general election.

These bread and butter issues are the prime concern of voters now.

Even hot issues like politics ranked lower than economic factors and crime.

The survey revealed that 96% of respondents were concerned with the current economic situation such as the rising cost of consumer goods, while 88% said they were worried about the incidents of crime in the country.

Dr Syed Arabi: 'Certainly the Government is not passive about these issues'
The opinion poll was commissioned by The Star and carried out by the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). It involved 2,930 respondents and was conducted in 58 clusters in 12 states in the peninsula from Dec 8 to Dec 29 last year. The survey has a margin of error of less than 4%.

“Economic issues were considered important to Malaysians,” said the IIUM Dean of the Communications Department Prof Datuk Dr Syed Arabi Idid, who headed the survey.

“People are concerned over the rising prices of basic necessities and the high cost of living, especially with the looming global oil prices.

“Crime is also a worry to them,” he said yesterday.

However, Dr Syed Arabi said the Government did respond to these concerns.

He cited the National Price Council as one of the measures taken to tackle the rising prices of consumer items and cost of living. Under the price council, the Government announced recently that a national stockpile of essential goods like rice and cooking oil would be created to ensure that prices and supply remained stable at all times.

The price council, headed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, will monitor, advise and oversee the government's price policy, competitive market structures and the efficiency of subsidy schemes.

The price council is also aimed at preventing unfair and collusive trade practices affecting supply and prices of essential goods and services, and eventually softening the impact of rising prices on the cost of living.

“The prime minister himself has gone to the ground to initiate measures to beef up security, such as rehiring capable retired police officers,” said Dr Syed Arabi.

Abdullah, who is also the Internal Security Minister, announced recently that there would be a police station at every corner, and more than 3,000 more patrol cars and 4,000 motorcycles would be deployed to combat crime.

He also said that 60,000 police personnel would be recruited, while the police department would rent shoplots to set up the police stations.

A total of 1,756 respondents were aged between 21 and 35, 1,181 respondents polled were in the 36-50 age group, and 719 respondents were those above 51 years old.

The third main concern of the respondents was the influx of foreigners into the country, with 40% regarding it as a problem.

This was followed by other concerns on politics, unity, the environment, internal and external threats, road traffic problems and leadership.

Prof Dr Syed Arabi said 2% of respondents expressed concern over internal and external threats and considered the rising number of vehicles as a bane, while only 1% said leaders must be proven to be capable.


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