Concerns about cyber attacks, job insecurity eroded trust in Government and NGOs: Report

People in Singapore have more trust overall in their institutions than others, with a score of 62, compared with the global average of 52.

Concerns about cyber attacks and job insecurity weigh heavily with people in Singapore, and such issues have led to an erosion of trust in government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) among the informed public, according to a report by public relations firm Edelman.

Overall, however, the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer shows a modest increase in trust among people in Singapore in the four institutions of businesses, NGOs, government and the media, with 50 per cent believing that they and their families will be better off in five years’ time.

Among the informed public, who are college-educated, active in business and society and consume news regularly, the optimism is even higher, at 56 per cent, according to Edelman’s poll of people’s belief in their country’s institutions to do the right thing for the future.

When data from this group was analysed, however, it showed that while trust in businesses had increased, there was a decline of 8 percentage points in trust in the Government and a drop of 2 percentage points in NGOs. Trust in the media remained unchanged.

Among the general public, trust in institutions was up.

The Trust Index also showed that people in Singapore have more trust overall in their institutions than others, with a score of 62, compared with the global average of 52.

The annual report, now in its 19th year, was based on an online survey of over 33,000 respondents above 18 years of age in 27 markets.

People in Singapore have the best outlook among developed countries, Mr Matt Harrington, Edelman’s global chief operating officer, said yesterday at the launch of the Singapore results of the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer. “All others felt less positive about the future.”

There has been a recovery of trust since 2017, when the world witnessed much uncertainty following the announcement of Brexit, and the US presidential elections, which put President Donald Trump in power, but in 14 markets, most of them developed countries, people do not believe they will be better off, Mr Harrington said.

Still, distrust in Singapore is of concern, the report found, when data is analysed from different perspectives.

While the Government has traditionally countered economic and political headwinds, societal and technological uncertainties are issues to be aware of, said Mr John Kerr, chief executive of Edelman Singapore.

Things like problems with the mass rapid transit system and the safety of national servicemen play on the minds of Singaporeans when they think of how they feel about the future, he said.

People’s greatest concern is the possibility of cyber attacks and cyber terrorism and the havoc that this could create. There is also widespread fear of job losses, with many expressing their concern about automation and other innovations taking away jobs.

Not having the training and skills necessary to get a good-paying job also figures in the top worries people have, the data showed.

In terms of gender, more women than men trust the Government.

On the positive side, there was a significant increase in the consumption of news and trust in businesses is up. Singaporeans are looking for leadership from their CEOs, with 83 per cent of those polled saying that top executives should take the initiative on change rather than wait for the Government to lead.

About 1,150 respondents were polled per market for the mass population data in the survey, while another 500 respondents were polled for the informed public results in US and China. In all other markets, there were about 200 people for the informed public results.