KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 20 — Malaysians grew more suspicious of Putrajaya this year with just 45 per cent saying they trust their government, a study has revealed.
Malaysia’s neighbours in Indonesia and Singapore, however, recorded higher trust levels in their government, the study by global public relations firm Edelman showed, with 72 per cent of those polled in the former nation saying they trust their government while 70 per cent in the latter said they felt the same about theirs.
But, the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer released yesterday also revealed that Malaysians were not alone in how they felt towards their leaders, noting the same trend in other countries around the world.
“There has been a startling decrease in trust across all institutions driven by the unpredictable and unimaginable events of 2014,” Edelman president and CEO Richard Edelman said in a statement.
“The spread of Ebola in West Africa; the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, plus two subsequent air disasters; the arrests of top Chinese government officials; the foreign exchange rate rigging by six global banks; and numerous data breaches, most recently at Sony Pictures by a sovereign nation, have shaken confidence,” he added.
The vanishing of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370, which carried 239 people on board, in March last year saw contradictory statements being issued by Malaysian authorities.
Questions were also raised on why the Malaysian military failed to report its sighting of the commercial plane on radar when it deviated from its Beijing-bound flight path and flew across the Malaysian peninsula.
According to the Edelman study, Malaysians’ trust in the government dropped nine percentage points from 54 per cent last year to 45 per cent this year.
The study said the government remained the least trusted institution globally for the fourth year running, with trust levels below 50 per cent in 19 out of 27 countries.
The Edelman study also showed Malaysians having lower trust this year in three other institutions measured — media (46 per cent), business (67 per cent) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) (67 per cent).
Malaysians’ trust in the media have dropped even more, by 13 percentage points from 59 per cent in 2014 to 46 per cent this year.
Edelman’s survey of 27 countries also showed increasing trust in online search engines at 64 per cent this year, along with deteriorating trust in traditional media at 62 per cent this year for general news.
The study further showed online searches as the first source for general information, breaking news and for validating breaking news on business.
According to the study, the millennials trust digital media more at 72 per cent, compared to 64 per cent for traditional media.
Malaysians’ trust in NGOs dipped slightly from 75 per cent last year to 67 per cent this year, while their trust in business dropped from 72 per cent in 2014 to 67 per cent this year.
Malaysians’ average trust in the institutions of government, media, business and NGOs declined from 65 per cent last year to 56 per cent this year.
The Edelman survey sampled 27,000 respondents from the general population and 6,000 people from the informed public in 27 countries, including the US, Australia, China and Sweden, among others.