Politweet.Org

Observing Malaysian Social Media

Evaluating the Response to the National Security Council Bill by Twitter Users in KL and Selangor

1. Background

The National Security Council (NSC) 2015 Bill was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on December 1st [1]. The purpose of the bill is, “to establish the National Security Council with powers, among others, to control and coordinate, and to issue directives to, the Government Entities on matters concerning national security. The proposed Act also empowers the Prime Minister, upon advice by the Council, to declare certain area in Malaysia as a security area. Special powers are given to the Security Forces in the security area.” [2]

Within a security area, security forces may:

  • evacuate persons from the area
  • enforce a curfew on all persons within the area
  • control the movement/entry/exit of persons and vehicles
  • arrest any person suspected of committing an offence (without a warrant)
  • stop and search any person, vehicle or premises (without a warrant)
  • seize any vehicle if it is suspected to have been used in the commission of an offense
  • take temporary possession of land, building or movable property in the interest of national security or as accommodation for security forces; with conditional compensation to aggrieved persons
  • demolish unoccupied buildings that may be used by persons who are a threat to national security; with conditional compensation to aggrieved persons

Additionally the Council, its members, the security forces or personnel of Government entities are protected from legal action.

The combination of a lack of accountability and enforcement powers given to the PM were highlighted by the Opposition and civil society members.

Following the passing of the bill on December 4th [3], the #TakNakDiktator campaign on December 8th [4]. The goal of the campaign is to spread awareness of the issue and stop the bill from being made into law.

As of December 20th, 22,552 supporters have signed the online petition and 6,481 users have tweeted the #TakNakDiktator hashtag.

2. Our Analysis

We performed opinion-based analysis on 400 users based in Kuala Lumpur (KL) and Selangor who tweeted about the NSC bill (and related terms such as MKN) from December 1st – December 16th 2015.

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 initial goal was to gauge the response by Twitter users in Malaysia. However the topic of the NSC bill was discussed mainly by users in KL and Selangor and the volume of users in other states was too low to consider evaluating. This is an indicator that the issue is a partisan one only discussed by people with a certain political leaning.

Our latest estimates of Malaysia’s user population places 48% of users in KL and Selangor. For the topic of the NSC bill, 71% of users tweeting about it (not including retweets) were based in KL and Selangor. This includes users tweeting their own opinions, uploading images and sharing links to articles.

This is unusual because typically between 48% – 54% of users tweeting (not including retweets) about socio-political topics in Malaysia (e.g. Bersih 4, opinions about Prime Minister Najib Razak, Rohingya refugee crisis) are based in KL and Selangor.

If we include retweets then 56% of users tweeting about the NSC bill are in KL and Selangor. This indicates the issue is less significant nationally because users in other states were mostly retweeting content and the total volume of users is small.

Because of this unbalanced distribution we can only evaluate the opinions of users in KL and Selangor on the NSC bill. As we note in our conclusion, the result could not be taken as representative of Twitter users due to the issues mentioned here and the final result.

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

  1. Support
  2. Neutral
  3. Don’t Support

These were further divided into the following categories:

  1. Support
  2. Neutral
  3. Don’t Support (general)
  4. Don’t Support (fearful)

The results are shown in the following charts.

Summary

nsc_opinion_pie1
 

Category Users (%)
Support 9 2.25
Neutral 15 3.75
Don’t Support 376 94.00

 
Individual Category Breakdown

nsc_opinion_pie2
 

Category Users (%)
Support 9 2.25
Neutral 15 3.75
Don’t Support (general) 115 28.75
Don’t Support (fearful) 261 65.25

 

3. Findings

What follows are the findings for each category.

3.1 Support

9 users (2.25%)

Users who expressed support for the bill or defended the bill.

3.2 Neutral

15 users (3.75%)

Users who had a neutral position on the bill.

3.3 Don’t Support (general)

115 users (28.75%)

Users who did not support the bill for general reasons. The most common opinion expressed was concern that the bill gave the Prime Minister and/or the government too much power that may be abused in future. Other users opposed the bill without stating a reason.

Among the most common opinions expressed by this group were:

  • disagreed with giving the PM too much power
  • don’t see a reason to have the bill because they consider Malaysia safe from terrorism and SOSMA/POTA should be enough
  • concerned that the law may be abused in future
  • suspicious about the sudden introduction of the bill and the rush to pass it in Parliament
  • concerned about the lack of check and balance
  • concerned about detention without trial
  • believed the bill to be unconstitutional
  • concerned about placing the Army under the PM (within a security area) without the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s consent
  • disliked Najib Razak

3.4 Don’t Support (fearful)

261 users (65.25%)

Users who did not support the bill because they believed it would be used against the public. Users in this category generally supported the belief that the Prime Minister is a dictator following the passing of the bill. They also expressed opinions found in the general category.

Unlike users in the general category who were concerned about potential abuse of the law, these users were more certain the law will be used against the public in the near-future.

Among the most common opinions expressed by this group were:

  • labelled the bill as the ‘Dictatorship Bill’
  • believed the PM will use the bill to remain in power indefinitely
  • supported the #TakNakDiktator campaign
  • believed democracy is dead
  • believed the bill will destroy/ruin the country
  • believed that this law will be used against the people / politicians / activists
  • believed that civil rights / liberty have been lost
  • believed this law will be used in the next General Election
  • believed this law will be used in future protest rallies to curb dissent
  • lamented the loss of freedom
  • expressed interest in migrating
  • concerned about martial law
  • comparisons of Najib Razak to Adolf Hitler and Senator Palpatine (Star Wars)

Another common belief expressed by this group was that under the NSC, the PM (or the government) can arbitrarily detain individuals and seize property. There was also mention of being possibly detained under NSC for making anti-government comments online. The pre-requisite of enforcement powers only applying to people within a security area was not highlighted by most users. This omission helped increase fears that the Act would be used against the public.

4. About the Population Sample

The results reflect a young demographic, by our estimates to be between 18 – 30 years old. Users were fairly balanced between English speakers and Bahasa Malaysia speakers. The distribution of users by their primary language is:

  • 54% Bahasa Malaysia speakers
  • 44% English speakers
  • 2% Bilingual speakers

nsc_langpie

5. Performance of #TakNakDiktator Campaign

The graph below shows the users/day tweeting the #TakNakDiktator hashtag. As of Dec 20th 6,481 users (globally) have tweeted the hashtag since the campaign started. Activity peaked at 10,663 tweets from 3,999 users on December 8th.

nsc_activity

This graph shows the number of new users tweeting the hashtag per day. This indicates how many users are joining the campaign each day.

nsc_newusers

Based on the pattern it appears that campaign growth has been slow. 85% of the total users tweeted the hashtag between Dec 8th – 9th.

When we examine the track record of users tweeting #TakNakDiktator, we found that 74% of users had previously taken part in the following anti-government/anti-Najib hashtag campaigns:

  1. #KitaLawan
  2. #NajibLetakJawatan
  3. #BantahGST
  4. #MansuhAktaHasutan
  5. #TangkapNajib
  6. #UndurNajib
  7. #RakyatHakimNegara
  8. #DearNajib
  9. #Nothing2Hide
  10. #Bersih4

This chart shows the number of users tweeting each hashtag per-month in 2015. #Bersih4 is not shown due to the difference in scale.

nsc_antigomen_hashtags

The highest points for each campaign are listed below.
 

Hashtag Peak Users Peak Month
#RakyatHakimNegara 12,164 February
#KitaLawan 33,133 March
#MansuhAktaHasutan 1,032 April
#BantahGST 14,329 May
#Nothing2Hide 40,751 June
#NajibLetakJawatan 8,549 July
#TangkapNajib 34,789 August
#DearNajib 31,460 August
#Bersih4 97,651 August
#UndurNajib 8,054 December

 
In total 195,612 users tweeted 1,244,900 tweets using these hashtags in 2015 (up to Dec 20th). Excluding #Bersih4 the total would be 144,415 users tweeting 652,784 tweets.

From the sample of 400 users, 355 users (89%) had participated in these hashtag campaigns.

In a separate analysis on mentions of ‘dictator’ and ‘diktator’ we found that users in Malaysia were not using the words in significant numbers in relation to the PM. Efforts to label the PM a dictator have been unsuccessful.

6. Conclusion

Some key points:

  • 71% of users tweeting about the NSC bill (not including retweets) were based in KL and Selangor instead of the expected 48% – 54%.
  • The most passionate campaigners against the NSC bill were tweeting in English, making it harder for the message to reach the larger Bahasa Malaysia-speaking community in the country.
  • There were significantly less users promoting the NSC bill compared to those condemning it. The lack of competing messages may have affected sentiment as any NSC-related content seen by users was likely to be negative.
  • 74% of participants in the #TakNakDiktator campaign and 89% of users in the sample had previously joined other anti-Najib and anti-government hashtag campaigns
  • The #TakNakDiktator campaign is currently not showing signs of a growing movement
  • The labels ‘dictator’ and ‘diktator’ have not been successfully associated with Najib Razak
  • A manual reading of a larger sample of 803 users (inclusive of the sample used in this analysis) revealed that negative remarks about Najib Razak and UMNO were commonly expressed by users in KL and Selangor tweeting about the NSC bill.

These points lead us to conclude that the NSC bill was not considered to be an important issue by Twitter users nationwide.

The topic of the NSC bill mainly drew interest from a relatively small, heavily partisan group of Twitter users in KL and Selangor. Their views are not reflective of the user population of KL, Selangor or the country.

We can say that an overwhelming majority of users in KL and Selangor showing interest in the NSC bill opposed it, with fear of the government and dislike of Najib Razak being driving factors.

On a national level on Twitter, negative sentiment towards Najib Razak appears high among the youth. It is a topic that merits further study. Other issues such as the rising cost of living, increased price of public transport fares and the alleged theft of RM2.6 billion were more popular than the NSC bill issue in December.

7. Location of users

Based on geo-tagged tweets, we are able to determine where users often tweet from. This is indicative of where they spend most of their time e.g. work-place, university or residence.

Blue markers = Support; Yellow markers = Neutral; Red markers = Don’t Support

7.1 Selangor

nsc_selangor_map

7.2 Kuala Lumpur

nsc_kl_map

8. References

[1] Daim, N. (2015, December 1) National Security Council bill tabled. New Straits Times. Retrieved from http://www.nst.com.my/news/2015/12/114926/national-security-council-bill-tabled

[2] (2015) National Security Council Bill 2015. Retrieved from http://www.parlimen.gov.my/bills-dewan-rakyat.html?uweb=dr&lang=en

[3] (2015, December 4) Controversial National Security Council Bill passed. The Star. Retrieved from http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2015/12/04/controversial-national-security-council-bill-passed/

[4] The #TakNakDiktator Campaign Coalition (2015, December 8) Malaysia Must Unite to Stop the National Security Council Bill 2015 [Press statement]. Retrieved from http://www.lawyersforliberty.org/taknakdiktator-campaign-coalition-malaysia-must-unite-to-stop-the-national-security-council-bill-2015/

Advertisements

Written by politweet

December 24, 2015 at 3:46 pm

%d bloggers like this: