Observing Malaysian Social Media

Archive for January 2011

Who tweets about race?

Who tweets about race? Not that many apparently, if you don’t count our politicians.This diagram is not intended to highlight racism. Just the mention of ‘Malay’ doesn’t mean the user is saying something bad about Malays, or saying that Malays are superior. But it is worth noting that out of the 16,600 users who tweeted to politicians (the Tweeple), only 9.9% mentioned race.So out of the 213,282 tweets by Tweeple this year, which includes retweets of what politicians wrote, only 5,793 (2.72 %) mentioned race. It implies that any talk of race by politicians whether positive or negative hasn’t gained much traction among the people, and that the people themselves don’t often bring up race as an issue.

The following are noticeable patterns in the ‘race mentioning tweets’. The frequency in brackets indicates how many users followed that pattern.

Pakatan Rakyat

1. [majority] Highlight different races at their events, or the race of people they are meeting. For example a Chinese YB tweeting that ‘many Indians came’ for their ceramah, or ‘having tea with Chinese supporters’, or ‘had good conversation with Malay taxi driver’.

2. [majority] Proactively mention malay/chinese/indian villages that have received aid; how their parties have a mix of different races;the support their parties have from the different races.

3. [majority] Hightlight the poverty faced by different races, primarily Malay

4. [half] Often defend themselves against accusations of racial favoritism. They commonly cite racial breakdown of statistics as proof. Sometimes they proactively tweet stats to show how much help (scholarships/contracts/etc) given to each race.

5. [half] Highlight racial remarks by BN politicians, e.g. ‘..that they don’t need Chinese and Indian votes’

6. [very few] Questioning the race of some BN politicians, whether ‘really Malay, or mixed’ or ‘bukan Melayu tulen’. Also proclaiming their own purity.

7. [very few] Demanding for posts to be filled by certain races, and accusing BN of allocating a high budget to public services due to Malay dominance in the area.

Barisan Nasional

1. [half] Question racial breakdown of statistics cited by Pakatan. Sometimes they raise issues e.g. how many scholarships given to each race.

2. [half] Question DAP’s positioning of itself as multi-racial when their membership is largely Chinese. Also criticism of DAP for allegedly letting go of their principles to appease PAS.

3. [half] State they will be there for their respective races to champion their issues, but will help other Malaysians as well. As one UMNO politician put it, “..parti berasaskan kaum, tapi bukan berasaskan rasis”.

4. [few] Highlight aid given to indian/chinese/malay communities, but much less frequently compared to Pakatan. Also the tweets are on more general,large-scale terms, e.g. ‘a community’ instead of Pakatan’s ‘a family’, ‘a voter’ or ‘a village’.

5. [very few] Highlight different races at their events, or the race of people they are meeting.

Both Barisan Nasional + Pakatan Rakyat

1. [majority] Divide issues based on race

2. [majority] Criticise PERKASA and Ibrahim Ali for bringing up racial issues. Not one supported PERKASA.

3. [majority] Stereotype voter’s way of thinking based on race.

4. [majority] Label areas based on race.

5. [half] Sometimes tweet about Ketuanan Melayu vs. Ketuanan Rakyat.

6. [few] Discuss Chinese school land allocation/funding/education quality

7. [few] Criticise parties on the opposing side in racial ways, e.g. “What has MCA done for Chinese?”, “UMNO is to defend Malays, but sells Malay land”, “If DAP had Malay ADUN it would get MB seat in Perak”, “Melayu hilang suara selagi UMNO berkuasa”.

8. [few] Malay unity and malay division due to UMNO/PR


A detailed analysis of 5793 tweets would be too time-consuming, so here are the main themes of the tweets:

1. Criticism of politicians for highlighting the race of people when talking about issues, e.g. ‘most Malays are poor’ and choice of candidates in by-elections e.g. ‘non-Indian in Hulu Selangor’. Majority of criticism directed at BN and DAP.

2. Retweets of whatever politicians said.

3. Racial slurs levied against politicians, political parties and other Tweeple. This includes accusations of racism.

4. The Malaysian First/Malay First etc. debate – comments and challenges to politicians

5. Criticism of PERKASA and Ibrahim Ali, either directed at UMNO politicians or retweeted from/to Pakatan politicians

6. Malay unity and division, and how politicians’ actions were affecting it.

7. By-elections always brought up discussion on how much support BN/PR has from each race in various areas and the activities there.

Most of the other tweets varied based on whatever issue was current. These are so varied it would be impossible to list them all. A couple of examples:

1. Denial that gambling is Chinese or Indian culture (during the sports betting license issue)

2. Criticism of PAS on some Malay-centric ideas, such as requiring Baju Melayu for civil servants on certain days of the week

*the majority of tweets related to food e.g. Indian food, Chinese restoran etc. were not included in this study.

*talk of Chinese schools and education has been included, and will be elaborated on in a future diagram.

*some associations and locations have race as part of their name. E.g. KL-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Kg Cina Sijantung, Msian Indian Restaurant Owners Assoc. These tweets were not numerous but would be difficult to filter out, so they were left in. Some changes to the database are being planned to make filtering easier in future.

Written by politweet

January 3, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Posted in Analyses, Visualisations

Tagged with , ,