Survey findings - Do Malaysians Trust Public Institutions? (I)
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Presentation slides

PETALING JAYA, 12 June 2018:  Putrajaya needs to address the public’s trust deficit with government institutions, with the local authorities and the courts recording worrying trust gaps, according to a nationwide survey carried out early this year.

Of the 1,000 respondents surveyed, 79% felt that impartiality of local government was important, but only 38% perceived them as trustworthy, or a trust gap of 41% (79% - 38%). Close behind were the courts, which recorded a gap of 39%.

Top on the list of the eight institutions surveyed were the then Federal government (trust gap of 48%), politicians (45%) and the local mainstream media (44%). Other institutions surveyed were the police with a trust gap of 38%, and the local alternative online media (36%).The Malaysian armed forces enjoyed the highest confidence, with a trust gap of a mere 20%.

The Centre For A Better Tomorrow (CENBET), an advocacy group for moderation and good governance, had commissioned WAYY Consulting, an independent research and consulting firm to carry out the survey.

CENBET Co-President Gan Ping Sieu who released the findings here today said that while the survey was conducted in February this year, before the recent general election, it could serve as a useful guide for the new government to roll out its reforms.

“As an advocacy group for transparency and accountability, we believe in institutional reforms. There is an urgent need to address the mismatch between public expectation and delivery,” Gan told a media conference here.

He cited the respondents’ low trust in local government as an example. There is an apparent strong case for the government to consider bringing back the third vote as one of the  measures to narrow down the trust gap.

An overwhelming 90% of the respondents also opined that the then Federal government needed reform. Despite popular belief then that the non-Malays were more critical of the previous Federal government, the survey showed negligible difference among the different races when it came to their wanting government reforms. About 89% of Malay respondents, 91% of Chinese and 90% of Indians and other communities felt the then Federal government should be reformed.

The findings on the widespread disquiet with the then Najib administration and with politicians in general corroborated the results of the 14th general election which saw Pakatan Harapan seized power.

The survey also revealed respondents’ top concerns as corruption (80%), followed by crime rates (75%) and cost of living (74%). They were least concerned about meritocracy (18%) and independence of public institutions (32%).

However, using a statistical tool called “Regression Analysis”, the survey revealed the top three concerns driving respondents’ perceived need for reform were relating to costs of living, corruption and economic development issues. Respectively, they were weighted at 15 points, 14.9 points and 14.6 points.

“We are particularly concerned that respondents do not give enough importance to the independence of public institutions. Only 32% of the respondents felt that independence of public is important.

“A key feature of a vibrant democracy is the independence of its public institutions. If the public has low expectations about independence of institutions like the judiciary or the local authorities, there’s fear that the rigorous reforms will not be carried out. Independence of institutions is key to keep government in check.”

Of the eight institutions surveyed, the Malaysian armed forces enjoyed favourable ratings in terms of public satisfaction (62%) and trustworthiness (60%). 

Gan added that CENBET would present the detailed findings to the newly-established Committee on Institutional Reforms as input for the government to enhance trust and public delivery in key institutions.

The online survey was carried out in accordance with the guidelines and standards of the International Chamber of Commerce and the Esomar Code of Practice. Both are globally accepted standards in the fields of market, opinion and social research and data analytics. 

CENBET had also carried out a survey on racism in Malaysia. The findings were released last year.


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