Trust is a many-splendoured thing

Trust is a many-splendoured thing

Trust enables citizens and the Government to work together to build a cohesive and adaptive society - one with good quality of life for all; where Singaporeans can call home.

So when we examine the issue of public trust in the Government, it is ultimately about citizen well-being, not the survival of a political party.

Trust affects how citizens think, feel and behave. It takes time to build, is easy to lose and once lost, is difficult to restore. Given how critical and complex the concept of trust is, research on trust perceptions may shed light on how and why the public trusts, or distrusts, the Government.

Studies have identified three major dimensions of trust: competence, integrity and benevolence.

TRUST IN COMPETENCE: This is about people's confidence in the Government's ability to perform and solve problems. It involves the ability to address issues affecting quality of life and also effectiveness in managing crises.

Efficient delivery of public services, low crime rates and a positive record in tackling economic and public-health crises contribute to trust in competence.

On the other hand, issues of infrastructure, such as public transport lagging behind population growth, raise doubts relating to trust in competence.

TRUST IN INTEGRITY: This is about people's assessment of the Government's character or the extent to which they think it is not corrupt and is impartial. The focus here is on the integrity of public service officers and political leaders but it also involves the perception of how breaches of integrity are handled.

The series of high-profile corruption and sexual impropriety scandals involving politicians and public officers erode trust in integrity. Vigorous action against those caught for corruption, regardless of who they are, may mitigate the erosion of trust to some extent and reinforce the Government's position on zero tolerance for such wrongdoings.

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