Malaysia’s Most Admired
October 1st, 2020, Kim Ho

Malaysia’s Most Admired

Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor overtakes Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammed as Malaysia’s most admired man

Dato’ Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, the first Malaysian astronaut has topped the list as Malaysia’s most admired man, overtaking Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammed who previously held the title.

Following Dato’ Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor is retired Olympic Badminton player Lee Chong Wei in second place. Former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammed has dropped two places, and is now in third.

Football players fare well on the list. Portuguese football player Cristiano Ronaldo comes in sixth and soccer celebrity David Beckham is in tenth. Technology billionaires also feature prominently with Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates in fourth, and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma in seventh.

The top ten list of most admired men is completed with Hong Kong martial arts actor Jackie Chan in fifth, former United States President in eighth, and actor Keanu Reeves in ninth.

Singer Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza is Malaysia’s most admired woman for the third year running. She is followed by Dr. Nur Amalina Che Bakri, famed general surgeon and newcomer to the list. Retired squash player Nicol David comes in third, and wife of former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir, Dr. Siti Hasmah binti Haji Mohamad Ali comes in fourth – making them the top four, and only Malaysian women on the list.

Entertainers feature strongly on the list of admired women. Actresses Angelina Jolie and Emma Watson comes in fifth and seventh respectively, talkshow host Oprah Winfrey in sixth and singer Taylor Swift in tenth.

The list is completed with Queen Elizabeth II in eighth, and former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama in ninth.


From January to March this year YouGov gathered open-ended nominations from panellists across 42 countries and territories, asking them simply: “Thinking about people alive in the world today, which [man or woman] do you most admire?” These nominations were then used to compile a list of the 20 men and 20 women who received the most nominations and were nominated in at least four countries. An additional 5-10 popular local figures were added to the lists for individual countries.

Because the first wave of fieldwork was carried out before the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, some figures associated with leading national efforts to counter the disease did not make it on to the national admiration lists. This is unlikely to affect the global results, as such figures are generally only well-known in their own country and a candidate needs to be nominated in at least four countries to stand a chance of making the global top twenty (which it is less likely still they would have reached).

In fieldwork conducted from May to September we used these lists to poll each of the 42 areas asking two questions: “who do you truly admire?”, where respondents could make multiple selections, and “who do you MOST admire?”, where they could only pick one. These two numbers were combined into a percentage share of admiration, displayed to the right of each name in the graphic above and table below, which shows the full results for every country including local celebrities and public figures:

By asking respondents two questions, we can understand both the breadth (i.e. global reach) and the intensity of a person's support.

Altogether, we polled in countries that constitute more than seven-tenths of the world's population. However, some parts of the world were better represented than others, so we weighted up the impact certain countries had on the final scores and weighted down others so the global scores more accurately reflect the breakdown of sentiment in the world overall.

All of the surveys were conducted online, and in many of the countries the internet penetration is low to the point where the sample can only be said to be representative to the online population. The countries and territories where this applies are China (including Hong Kong), Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and the Philippines.