More Malaysians fear unemployment than getting Covid-19

by ASILA JALIL / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

MALAYSIANS are more worried about losing their job than contracting Covid-19 as the current economic situation has raised concerns on one’s employment.

The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that although 77% of Malaysians surveyed are concerned about getting infected with Covid-19, a larger proportion of the subject, or 89%, are more concerned and fearful about job loss amid the pandemic.

The concern on unemployment is followed closely by cyber security (77%), climate change (76%) and losing personal freedom as a result of mandatory stay-at-home orders (71%).

“The pandemic is not only a concern in itself, but it has also heightened the concerns Malaysians have had prior to the pandemic. 65% worry that the pandemic will accelerate job loss due to automation, while more than half of surveyed respondents (53%) have witnessed layoffs or reductions in the workforce in the company they work for,” stated the firm in a recent study.

This trend, however, is not unique to Malaysia as over 62% of the global population agreed that those with less money, education and fewer resources seem to be burdened with the most suffering, risk of illness and the need to sacrifice during the ongoing pandemic.

The trust barometer saw Malaysia achieving an average Trust Index score of 66 points, rising by six points from last year. The country also climbed two spots to the seventh position on the Global Trust Index ranking.

Malaysia’s Trust Index was higher than the Asia-Pacific (62 points) and global (56 points) averages. The index also found that the general public have lost faith in the traditional markers of information credibility.

“We are living in a time when Malaysians’ trust in institutions carries high stakes in the recovery of the country’s public health and economy.

“This year’s Trust Barometer has highlighted some of the ways that the government, employers, NGOs and the media can build greater trust, as they continue on the path towards pandemic recovery for the nation,” said Edelman Malaysia group director and head of crisis management Christopher de Cruz.

Although they do have more trust in institutions overall, Malaysians generally do not trust societal leaders such as journalists (51 points), government officials (53 points) and CEOs (57 points) to do what is right.

Instead, they place their trust on leaders that are more familiar such as people in their own communities (68 points) and their employers (68 points).

Additionally, 65% of Malaysians believe that most news organisations are more concerned on supporting an ideology or political position than informing the public about truthful facts.

Almost half of the respondents believe the media are not being objective and non-partisan in their reporting.

“Without trust in societal leaders and news organisations, Malaysians are seeking alternative sources for information, increasingly leaning in on social media (nine points) and (personal) search (four points) to shape their opinions rather than conventional media channels,” said the firm.

Meanwhile, it noted that businesses have emerged as the most credible and trusted source of information for most Malaysians, with 66% voting their employer as the most trusted source of information to help navigate the crisis.

This vote is higher than their trust towards government communications (60%) and news media reports (63%).

“The greatest opportunity for businesses to gain trust is by serving as a guardian of information quality, which has increased the likelihood of trust by 5.8%.

“Additionally, businesses are expected to act for the long term: Embracing sustainability (5.7%), delivering a robust health and safety response to Covid-19 (4.8%), driving economic prosperity (4.7%), while focusing on longterm thinking over short-term profits are actions associated with an increase in trust (4.6%).”

It added that 71% of Malaysian respondents now expect CEOs to lead with empathy in driving positive change and demonstrating accountability to the communities they serve, while 83% agree that CEOs should step in to complement the government’s efforts in fixing problems faced by societies.

De Cruz said the mandate from the Malaysian public is clear where institutions must collaborate with one another to solve societal issues.

“Businesses, government, media and NGOs must find a common purpose and take collective action to address inequalities, starting with foundational problems. Especially in times of turbulence and volatility, trust is what holds society together and how growth is rebuilt for the nation at large.” he added.