Government Sentiment: Negeri Sembilan
Unknown, but surprisingly positive. That’s how the Chief Minister of Negeri Sembilan Darul Khusus can be summed up. Chief Minister Aminuddin Harun is the latest Chief Minister, appointed under the PH stewardship of the state. Previously, Negeri Sembilan, Special Abode was under the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition before the historic 2018 election. After the general election, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition took over the state government with a simple majority by winning 20 out of 36 state parliamentary seats. With this victory, Aminuddin Harun from the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) was appointed to be the Chief Minister. He is the state representative from the Sikamat constituency.
After a year of PH governing Negeri Sembilan, we conducted a survey interview of around 1,300 people from Negeri Sembilan to understand their sentiments towards their local and federal administrations and perception of their performance. By analyzing their perception, we were able to understand the issues that matter to the community and whether the people of Negeri Sembilan changed their mind after PH took over the state.
The Chief Minister
Chief minister Harun has been in politics ever since 1995. Before joining PKR in 1999, he was involved with the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) from 1995 – 1998, mostly at the district-level postings. We posed the question to respondents to gauge how well they know their chief minister. Unfortunately, majority of the respondents could not name Harun as their chief minister which suggests that he is not popular among the people of Negeri Sembilan.
Although Harun was in politics for almost 13 years and has been winning the Sikamat seat ever since 2008, yet he is still relatively unknown. This pattern seems to be a trend when a new chief minister is selected to become the governing head of the local administration after the predecessor has held the position for a long-time. In this context, Mohamad Hassan from BN who held the chief minister position for 14 years (2004-2018) would be much more popular than Harun. This poll shows that the citizens of Negeri Sembilan are still adjusting to the new government and require more time to start recognizing Harun as their new Chief Minister.
Other reasons that can be factored in, are how the people of Negeri Sembilan perceive the opposition party, and their affinity towards BN. Based on Pie Chart 5, the data suggests that the majority of the respondents are unsure about the opposition party. This behaviour perhaps has been carried over before the elections and since there were not many exposures to the opposite party via mainstream media, people are unsure on how to evaluate the Pakatan Harapan coalition.
Another pattern to observe is that there is a quite high percentage of people satisfied with the opposition (BN) party. This means that people haven’t shifted their mindset from the BN administration to PH ruling. Thus, making a Harun less popular among the locality. This could be another reason as to why during the Rantau election, BN was able to hold their constituency.
Despite being relatively unknown, the majority of respondents state that they are satisfied with their chief minister’s performance. This data concludes that popularity does not follow performance and would suggest that Harun is carrying out his duty as expected so people do not notice any change. It could also mean that the state government is doing a comparable job to the previous administration and people do notice any significant change. Around 42% of the responses are neutral about his performance, which reinforces the fact that they may be conflating the state government with the Chief Minister.
The State & Federal Government’s Performance
Moving on, we will look at people’s sentiment on the federal and local government performance. By looking at them through the lenses of the public’s perception, we might able to find interesting insights about the overall Pakatan Harapan administration.
If you observe Pie Chart 7 and 8, the review of the federal-level and state-level governments go hand-in-hand. Especially in our political system where state administration relies heavily on the federal government. Since Negeri Sembilan has a positive outlook towards both levels of administration, in order to maintain these results, the state needs to make the federal government accountable to their promises.
One of the concerns that might arise would be regarding Negeri Sembilan’s perceptions of the opposition party (Pie Chart 5). An opposing governing voice plays a huge role in maintaining check and balance and creating more inclusive and advanced solutions for its citizens. The citizens of Negeri Sembilan reflect a large proportion of uncertainty towards BN. This shows that BN does not have a big impact on the citizens in terms of their rhetoric and are not a vocal part of the local government.
Here we look at the changes felt by the people of Negeri Sembilan and the issues that matter to them. It is vital for governing bodies to pay heed to their citizen’s opinions, especially in policymaking. The people’s sentiment towards change and important issues should be put into consideration before amending and proposing bills.
Looking at Table 1, it seems that majority of the people are not feeling the changes by the local government. Although the government is creating policies to attract investors, it is difficult to feel any changes since this policy will take around 2-3 years to see the benefits and ramifications.
Another perspective is that it is still too early for Negeri Sembilan to realize the changes because the new administration is still adjusting to being the governing party. Perhaps there were changes made by the government but the changes were only be felt at a district-level instead of statewide.
It is not surprising that the majority of the respondents are worried about the rising of cost of living. Inflation is an issue that bothers everyone and the state administration should be more vocal about this issue to make the federal government address it as a top priority. This issue is also confounded with issues of non-fulfilment of the manifesto since improving the standards of living is a pre-election promise made by the Pakatan Harapan government.
Perhaps the local government should start conducting town halls meeting or have a functioning, effective platform for them to understand what matters to the people of Negeri Sembilan. By having these dialogues to discuss these issues, they can maintain their good perceptions from the people.