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Global study says Malaysia among least 'polarised' nations, but four in 10 feel country 'more divided' now
Published on: Tuesday, January 24, 2023
By: FMT
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Global study says Malaysia among least 'polarised' nations, but four in 10 feel country 'more divided' now
The 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer showed that Malaysia was categorised as ‘less polarised’, along with Singapore, Indonesia, China, India, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. — File picture by Malay Mail
Kuala Lumpur: A study of 28 countries by global communications firm Edelman found that Malaysia was among the least polarised countries, along with neighbours Singapore and Indonesia.

The 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer, released during the World Economic Forum last week, showed that Malaysians polled felt their country is more divided than the two but also more optimistic that the division can be overcome.

“We are in a period of huge systemic change in a multi-polar world, with divisive forces fanning economic grievance,” Dave Samson, its global vice-chairman of corporate affairs, said in an accompanying press release.

“If neglected, the result will be increased levels of polarisation, slowing economic growth, deeper discrimination, and an inherent inability to solve problems. CEOs, and the companies they lead, must play a central role in addressing these issues and in helping restore economic optimism.”

The study measured the polarisation of countries based on two factors: how divided respondents felt their country was on key societal issues, and how entrenched respondents felt these divisions were.

Malaysia was categorised as "less polarised", along with Singapore, Indonesia, China, India, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Countries designated as "severely polarised" were Colombia, the United States, South Africa, Spain and Sweden — with Argentina ranked as the most severe in both factors.

Malaysia's "polarisation score" was 55 — together with Indonesia, this was the lowest among the 28 countries studied. "Severely polarised" country has a score of 130 and above.

The study also found that 74 per cent of Malaysians wanted brands to use their power to create a shared identity for Malaysians.

This comes as four in 10 Malaysian respondents said that the country is "more divided today than in the past".

Globally, respondents said the "rich and powerful" and "hostile foreign governments" are pulling societies apart, while "teachers" are regarded as the most unifying force.

The fieldwork for 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer was conducted between November 1 and 28 last year with an average of 1,150 respondents for the online survey from each of the 28 countries studied.

According to Edelman, the online survey is conducted every year for the past 23 years. The survey for Malaysia was conducted in the Malay language.

The components measured as drivers towards a country's polarisation were: distrust in government, lack of shared identity, systemic unfairness, economic pessimism, societal fears, and distrust in media.

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