Observing Malaysian Social Media

Archive for July 2015

Early Findings from Conversations about Muhyiddin Yassin

1. Background

On July 28th 2015 a new Cabinet line-up was announced by Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak (PM Najib).
Former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was absent from the new Cabinet. Zaid Hamidi replaced him for the post of Deputy Prime Minister and Mahdzir Khalid replaced him for the post of Minister of Education.

Muhyiddin being dropped from the Cabinet followed speculation that this would happen due to his remarks about 1MDB on Sunday, July 26th. He was reported to have asked for PM Najib to personally explain the 1MDB issue and answer the allegations by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) (reference).

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Written by politweet

July 30, 2015 at 11:19 am

Analysing Pakatan Rakyat’s Performance with Malay Voters in Peninsular Malaysia (GE13)

1. Background

Prior to the 13th General Election (GE13) we came up with a methodology of predicting election results based on voting patterns in previous elections (reference).

Our method relied on mapping polling lane results to individual voters. This process assigned probability values (chance of turnout; chance of voting for each coalition) to the voter that was not affected if they migrated to another constituency. This is important because between GE12 and GE13 527,849 voters migrated to different constituencies.

The impact of voter migration cannot be measured for a single seat just by comparing results of GE12 and GE13 for that seat. An analysis of the whole country needs to be performed. New voter registrations, voters passing away and voters no longer eligible to vote are other factors that require deep analysis.

After GE13 we were able to apply the same estimation method to voters based on GE13 results. By comparing the shift in probabilities we are able to calculate the swing in support for each coalition. Because we base our calculations on individual voters, we are able to calculate shifts in support based on combinations of the following dimensions:

  • By Age
  • By Race
  • By Gender
  • By Urban Development Category (rural / semi-urban / urban)
  • By Parliament/State Assembly Seat
  • By Polling District
  • By Locality
  • By Seats Won by Specific Parties

Any voter whose level of support cannot be determined is assigned a probability of 50% and categorised as a fence-sitter. The most reliable metric is age because voters are separated into polling lanes based on age. Additionally we have also categorised the 222 Parliament constituencies as rural, semi-urban or urban based on satellite imagery (reference). The descriptions of each category are:

Rural = villages (kampungs) / small towns / farmland distributed within the seat. Rural seats tend to be physically large with a low population.

Semi-urban = larger towns and/or numerous small towns, may include villages as well

Urban = cities where a majority of the seat is covered by some form of urban development

For this report we will focus on how Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and Barisan Nasional (BN) performed with regular Malay voters (pengundi biasa) in Peninsular Malaysia. 184 of the total 222 Parliament seats are in Peninsular Malaysia, where most of the Malay electorate is concentrated.

Elections are won based on the number of seats. However our analysis will mainly be on the Malay electorate treated as a set of voters ignoring constituency boundaries. We will examine this at the state-level and for Peninsular Malaysia. This will allow us to see patterns that are not obvious at the seat-level.

Postal and early voters are not part of this analysis. They need to be analysed separately due to their different voting process and difficulties in campaigning to both groups.

Please remember that unless otherwise stated, all statistics in this analysis refer to regular voters in Peninsular Malaysia only.

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Written by politweet

July 27, 2015 at 4:27 pm

Posted in Analyses

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Early Findings From Conversations About The Low Yat Incident

1. Background

On Saturday (July 11th 2015) between 4.50pm – 5.00pm two Malay youths were apprehended by Oppo salesperson(s) while allegedly running away after stealing a phone from another store at Low Yat Plaza. One was released and later returned at night (7.50 pm) with other youths to take revenge on the Oppo store and salesperson(s) involved [1]. Video footage of the fight started to go viral later that night.

The majority of users were sharing the video and expressing surprise. Few users openly expressed support/respect for the Malay youths involved in the initial fight on Saturday. There were more users commenting that Low Yat traders (specifically Chinese) were known to be cheats.

On Sunday (July 12th) there was little discussion about the incident on Twitter. Starting at 4pm a link to a blog post (http://www.utaranews.com/2015/07/rusuhan-besar-akan-berlaku-di-low-yatt.html) was tweeted out stating that there was going to be a riot at Low Yat Plaza ‘soon’ allegedly ‘in retaliation to cheating by Chinese traders’. The source for this news was not stated, and the link was tweeted out together with hashtags #melayubersatu and #kekalnajib.

Screenshot of the blog text:

Example of how it was shared:

On Sunday night at 7pm a large group of Malay youths gathered outside Low Yat Plaza and tried to gain entry. However they were stopped by police and ordered to disperse. After midnight they returned and started to begin fights outside Low Yat [3]. Five people were injured [4] and a car was badly damaged by the rioters.

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Written by politweet

July 22, 2015 at 4:18 am

Opinion Analysis on PM Najib Razak After WSJ Expose (by Users in Malaysia)

1. Background

On July 3rd 2015 at 4.42 AM (GMT+8), The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an article alleging that the on-going investigation into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) found evidence of billions of ringgit being transferred into Prime Minister Najib Razak’s personal bank accounts at AmIslamic Bank [1].

This was followed by a more detailed expose by Sarawak Report tweeted at 5.20 AM that provided unverified details on the dates, account numbers and sums of money involved [2].

News of the expose started to spread online at 9 AM. From what we observed, WSJ carrying the story added credibility to the claims despite having no evidence attached to the article. The Prime Minister responded with a press statement stating that he had ‘never taken funds for personal gain’ and the allegations came with no evidence [3]. WSJ has stood by their claims [4].

Over the next few days online backlash against the PM continued to increase. The publication of allegations by WSJ served as a trigger for an outpouring of criticism towards the PM on many issues beyond the alleged theft.

2. Our Analysis

We performed opinion-based analysis on 600 users based in Malaysia who tweeted about Najib, @NajibRazak, 1MDB, WSJ, Sarawak Report and related terms from July 3rd – July 7th 2015. The margin of error is +/- 4%.

Users were selected based on their tweet content and activity during this period. Sampling was done per-state based on the current estimated user population.

Spammers, news agencies and accounts with automated tweets were not included in the sample.

From this dataset we analysed the individual Twitter user timelines to determine their opinion. This took their tweets, retweets and conversations into account.

Our goal was to gauge public reaction by Twitter users in Malaysia to the allegations raised by the Wall Street Journal and Sarawak Report. Users who were tweeting about PM Najib but not in response to the issues raised (transfer of funds from 1MDB) were not included in the sample.

Based on this analysis we categorised users as belonging to one of the following categories:

  1. Positive
  2. Neutral
  3. Negative

These were further divided into the following categories based on which party they chose to support/criticise:

  1. Positive
  2. Neutral
  3. Negative (general)
  4. Negative (Najib must resign)
  5. Negative (Najib must resign, directed to @NajibRazak)
  6. Negative (directed to @NajibRazak)

The results are shown in the following charts.

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Written by politweet

July 9, 2015 at 1:08 pm