Do Malaysians Trust Public Institutions? (II)
Thursday, July 05, 2018

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PETALING JAYA, 5 July 2018:  Honesty and dedication to serve are the top two attributes voters expect from politicians, a survey carried out earlier this year suggests. The same survey also found politicians to be the least trusted among the eight institutions polled.

Some 72% of the 1,000 respondents chose honesty as “one of the main attributes deemed important for a politician”. Close behind was “dedication to serve the community and country” at 68%. Education level (29%) and personal wealth (19%) were the least important attributes as far as respondents were concerned. 

The nationwide survey, commissioned by Centre For A Better Tomorrow (CENBET). It also found that only 16% of the respondents found politicians to be trustworthy, the least trustworthy among all the key institutions that were polled.

CENBET Co-President Gan Ping Sieu who released the second part of the survey findings here today said given the unfavourable public perceptions of politicians, they needed to step up their game.

“As a civil society group that advocates transparency and good governance, we are deeply concerned about society’s poor regard for politicians, especially with regard to their trustworthiness,” added Gan.

Respondents were divided when it came to the courts. About 45% of respondents found the judicial system to be trustworthy, citing judges’ integrity as the main reason (55%) for their confidence. In contrast, of those who found the courts to be untrustworthy, judges’ lack of integrity was their main concern (56%). Other notable comments include perceived lack of separation of power between judiciary and Government i.e. political interference, control and influence by Government 

The survey also revealed that of the 62% respondents who found local authorities like municipal councils as “not trustworthy”, their pet peeve was “inefficient service” at 66% followed by perceived corruption at 47%.  CENBET reiterates that restoration of the Third Vote will narrow the trust deficit in the institution.

When it comes to the media, the alternative online media enjoyed significantly higher trustworthiness at 31%, compared with traditional print publications (23%). The main reason for not trusting traditional mainstream media is that “newspapers are not free to report without interference” (64%).

The main criticisms against online media was that they were deemed to be “unfair and publish inaccurate / fake news” (57%), but 75% of those who trusted online news were impressed with its “freedom to report without interference from external parties”.

For the police force, 60% of those polled found the institution not to be trustworthy. Of this, perceived corruption was the main reason for their trust deficit (71%) while 41% found the force to lack professionalism. For those who found the force to be trustworthy, 51% attributed this to the efficiency of the men in blue.

The institution that enjoyed the highest trust level was the Malaysian Armed Forces at 60%. Most respondents (60%) who trusted the institution were impressed with its discipline and found their personnel to be well-trained. For those who distrusted the armed forces, 47% were due to the perception that the force was not impartial and fair to all. 

“When it came to trustworthiness of institutions, the common theme boils down to fairness, integrity and efficiency. Institutions perceived to be fair and efficient score higher in public trustworthiness,” said Gan. 

He reiterated 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 as well as 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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