KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 23 ― The trust Malaysians have in its government, businesses and social media have dropped this year compared due to their perception of various prominent financial issues affecting the country last year, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2016.
In the study results released today, the global public relations firm said public trust in the government dipped by 7 percentage points from 46 per cent in its 2015 survey to 39 per cent this year among the general population and dropped 11 percentage points to 34 per cent among the informed public.
According to Edelman Malaysia managing director Robert Kay, the trust Malaysians placed in the federal government was now lower as a result of their perception towards the financial issues facing state-owned entities, including 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
“Government credibility took a big hit after significant issues around alleged corruption and freedom of expression, along with the real and perceived lack of transparency and widespread allegations of mismanagement at state-linked companies,” he told a news conference during the unveiling of the results here today.
But Kay said that on a general scale, the Malaysian score still topped half of the global charts when compared to how much citizens of other countries trusted their governments.
The study also showed business “remains the second most trusted of the four institutions in Malaysia and the most trusted to keep pace with changing times” even as it recorded a 2 percentage point drop to 58 per cent this year among the general public compared to 2015.
The Edelman study however found an “anomaly” when it comes to Malaysians trust in media, while the general public’s trust fell by 1 percentage point to 45 per cent this year, the trust among the informed public rose 13 percentage points to 59 per cent.
“Malaysia had one of the biggest rises in media trust among the informed public globally, possibly due to the constant coverage of alleged corruption at 1MDB.
“Extensively investigated by online outlets, the coverage led to the temporary closure of two media platforms,” he said, noting that hybrid media and high-profile media personalities who spoke out against the government had faced action.
He also said that generally Malaysians’ trust towards traditional media also fell by 9 percentage points in its 2016 study to 49 per cent.
The Edelman study found that on the social media front, Malaysians are now more cautious and less trusting on what is being shared online compared to previous years.
“Malaysians are also less trusting of content shared on social media, with a 7-point drop to 42 per cent that could be the result of rampant sharing of misinformation online in the past year,” Kay said.
But he added that Malaysians still trusted search engines as “the most trusted source for information” at 66 per cent.
The survey, which is Edelman’s fifth here was conducted between October 13 and November 16 last year and involved 33,000 respondents worldwide.
It defines “informed public” as those aged between 25 and 64 years, who are college educated, whose household income levels are in the top 25 percent of those in the same age group, and who report significant media consumption and engagement in business news and public policy.