KUALA LUMPUR, May 25 — Malaysians have expressed an eroding sense of confidence in both the government and media, an annual trust and credibility survey found.

Despite Malaysia’s sixth position out of 28 countries in the Global Trust Index, the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer report found that Malaysians have a deepening concern that fake news and false information are being used as a weapon against them.

“Democracies which previously prided themselves on values such as freedom of speech and expression are now faced with an uphill task of balancing fundamental human rights against societal problems.

“One example of a persistent problem is that of fake news which has remained a serious concern for a decade now, with no clear solution in sight,” said Christopher de Cruz, group director of Edelman Malaysia.

The survey also found that journalists and reporters in Malaysia have lost credibility, with 74 per cent of survey respondents saying they were worried that media practitioners are spreading disinformation or grossly exaggerating the contents of their reports.

Many also said that they view the government and media as a dividing force in society that fuels a cycle of distrust rather than a force that unites, the survey found.

“Distrust is now the default for citizens around the globe. In Malaysia, six in 10 have said that their default tendency is to distrust something until they have solid proof that it is trustworthy,” it said in the statement.

On the other hand, the barometer revealed that Malaysians have rising levels of trust in businesses and non-governmental organisations, viewing them as effective agents of positive change.

Seventy-eight per cent of the survey’s respondents agreed that CEOs are not doing enough to address societal issues and could make positive change by shaping conversations and influencing policy debates.

“As Malaysians want more leadership from businesses, not less, we need to appreciate the fact that businesses are no longer just profit-driven organisations and their societal role is here to stay.

“They must accept the responsibility of filling the void left by the government. Simply leading a business is not enough, there is an expectation for CEOs and other business leaders to speak on issues that impact the communities they operate in,” de Cruz said.