What Are Malaysians Most Worried About?

Hint: It is not politics.

Cover image via The Malay Mail Online

Ever since the 1MDB scandal erupted a couple of years ago, we'd think that Malaysians would be most worried about the rickety political climate of the country

The masses were made aware of the disastrous scandal when The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) started releasing a series of reports on how billions of ringgits have been channeled into Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's personal account through the state investment fund, 1MDB.

The news lead to a series of major political and economical changes in the country, including a sudden cabinet shuffle that saw former Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Dato' Haji Muhyiddin Yassin and four other ministers kicked out of their seats, the replacement of the Attorney-General in the midst of 1MDB investigations and the fall of the Malaysian ringgit.

A report by Bloomberg in April 2016, highlighted how the ringgit fell due to lower oil prices, the United States low jobless rate and also the 1MDB controversy.

"The ringgit fell for a fourth day in its longest stretch of losses since November 2015 and stocks dropped to a six-week low as troubled state investment company 1Malaysia Development Bhd. confirmed it’s in default after missing an interest payment on bonds," read the report dated 26 April 2016.

However, a recent survey revealed that politics isn't what Malaysians are most concerned about

Image via Nielsen

It is actually the economy that Malaysians are most worried about.

Global information and measurement company, Nielsen Holdings PLC recently conducted its Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions with a sample size of 500 in Malaysia.

Debunking any popular beliefs on how Malaysians may care about politics the most based on observations from social media channels, Nielsen showed how 45% of the respondents have attributed most of the concerns to the state of economy over anything else.

Economical concerns are followed by job security at 25%. The research firm also noted that more than one third of Malaysian consumers are confident about job prospects over the next year.

What's really interesting is that, a third of the respondents have also said that they have positive feelings about their personal finances despite the current economic state.

"Malaysia has weathered the currency devaluation and moved past the first year of the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) without the economy going into any significant downturn. Thus, the nation's consumer confidence outlook is returning, with more Malaysians believing that the economy is more resilient than a year ago," said Richard Hall, Country Manager for Nielsen Malaysia on the report published yesterday, 2 August.

Other concerns include work/life balance, debt, and political stability at 16% respectively.

The Nielson survey showed how Malaysians are least worried about their parent's welfare and happiness at only 7%.

Meanwhile, in terms of saving, Southeast Asian countries are leading the trend with Vietnam having the highest percentage of the world's most avid savers at 76% while Malaysia took the 7th place at 64%.

If economy is Malaysians' biggest concern, what do we spend on the most?

Image via Nielsen

Here's what Malaysians have spent their spare cash on in the second quarter of 2016:

1) 40% on holidays and vacations.

2) 25% on new clothes.

3) 19% on new technology (gadgets, etc.)

4) 18% on out-home-entertainment

5) 18% home improvements and decor

With that said, the consumer confidence survey also mentioned how Malaysians would continue to reduce their household expenditure to improve overall household savings

Over half of the respondents have reduced spending on new clothes (58%), switched to cheaper grocery brands (54%) and minimise out-of-home entertainment (52%) in a bid to save on household expenses as compared to last year.

However, should economic conditions do improve, about one third of Malaysians would continue to try to save on gas and electricity (369%), spend less on new clothes (31%) and minimize out-of-home entertainment (28%).

Contrary to local concerns, in 2015, the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked Malaysia as the world's 8th most efficient economy. Read this to find out why:

Speaking about the economy, have you ever wondered what would happen if our economy actually crashes?

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