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S’pore’s trust in government continues to fall: Edelman

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In terms of viewing government officials as credible spokespeople, Singapore now ranks “in the middle of the road at 49 per cent,” says US-based public relations firm, Edelman, in its latest survey on trust in countries around the world.

“As content creators, government officials are trusted by just 49 per cent of Singaporeans,” the survey found.

The survey also found that while overall trust in the government here “is still among the highest in the world”, this “is slipping” and has declined further to 70 per cent.

Singapore’s trust in government the last three years:

2013 – 76 per cent

2014 – 73 per cent

2015 – 70 per cent

“Specifically, Singapore suffered an eight-point drop in trust levels among citizens and slipped to the fifth spot among 27 countries, down from third in 2014,” Edelman says of Singapore’s overall trust levels in four institutions: media, government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and business.

“With double-digit drops for the first time in the media and business categories, Singapore’s Trust Index is now lower than those of regional neighbours India, Indonesia and China.

“All four institutions measured... suffered a loss of confidence in Singapore, continuing a trend seen since 2013,” the survey found.

“The erosion in Singapore’s trust in business was one of the largest among the 27 countries, with a ten-point fall to 61 per cent.”

Singapore’s trust in the media fell the most of the four categories, decreasing by 11 points to 59 per cent.

“Traditional was dethroned after three years as the most trusted media type,” Edelman says. “Considering the featured sex scandals, alleged plagiarism, and misreporting of Ebola stories at major newspapers The Straits Times and The New Paper, this dip may not be surprising.”

“These factors may also explain the slight uptick in trust in social media because many such voices were first heard online via Facebook and Twitter,” the survey says.

“For example, outrage over insensitive and inaccurate articles by hybrid media outlet STOMP took the form of a petition signed by more than 23,000 people in less than three weeks. This also shows the increasing criticism of the role of the media by Singaporeans.

Edelman also found that 72 per cent of family and friends who create online sites, such as social media platforms and blogs, are most trusted.

In contrast, “journalists are a more middling 54 per cent.”

While all four institutions have seen trust slip in the last year, trust in the NGOs sphere remains the highest among the four for the second year running.

This might be attributed to various well-received initiatives by various NGOs, the survey says.

For example, the six major NGOs which collaborated to organise the StopTraffickingSG initiative in order to raise the issue of victims’ rights in a new Prevention of Human Trafficking Bill last year.

Worldwide, the decline in trust in the four institutions has continued.

“The 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer shows a global decline in trust over the last year, and the number of countries with trusted institutions has fallen to an all-time low among the informed public.

“Among the general population, the trust deficit is even more pronounced, with nearly two-thirds of countries falling into the distruster category.

“In the last year, trust has declined for three of the four institutions measured. NGOs continue to be the most trusted institution, but trust in NGOs declined from 66 to 63 percent. Sixty percent of countries now distrust media. Trust in government increased slightly, driven by big gains in India, Russia and Indonesia but government is still distrusted in 19 of the 27 markets surveyed. And trust in business is below 50 percent in half of those markets.”

You can read the Edelman report on Singapore here: Trust in Singapore 2015.