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Observing Malaysian Social Media

How Political Interest is Divided by Language on Facebook in Malaysia (July 2017)

1. Introduction

This document provides a measurement of the political party interests of Facebook users in Malaysia. This is based on public information collected from Facebook.

Some important notes to remember when interpreting Facebook figures:

  1. Total population refers to Facebook users aged 13 years and above.
  2. Potential voters refer to Facebook users aged 21 years and above.
  3. Youth refers to Facebook users aged 13 – 20 years.
  4. Gender breakdown figures do not always add up to the total. This may be due to Facebook users not sharing their gender, and also due to rounding errors in statistics provided by Facebook. State breakdown figures also do not add up to the total due to the same rounding errors.
  5. Detailed statistics on Putrajaya are not available due to the small number of users in the territory.
  6. Figures provided by Facebook are estimates. Some inaccuracies are to be expected, e.g. the sum of state totals not being equal to the national total.
  7. Facebook users residing in Malaysia are not necessarily Malaysian citizens.
  8. Interest in a topic is equal to the number of users expressing interest in a topic.
    1. To measure interest we used a combination of Facebook Interests (a collection of interests, activities, groups, pages, status updates and job history identified by a common term determined by Facebook e.g. ‘United Malays National Organization’) and specific Group and Page names (e.g. Friends of BN).
    2. These are used to collect the number of users interested in a given party/coalition/politician/group. For example, a user mentioning a party name in a status update; sharing a news link related to the party or sharing content from a party-affiliated page would count towards the total interest in that party
    3. Interest in a political party does not indicate support for the party, only awareness
    4. It is currently assumed that interest in PAS includes some interest in AMANAH as PAS leaders and members migrated to AMANAH
  9. Audience refers to the population of users that express interest in a topic. Unless indicated, the audiences used in this report are composed of potential voters (users in Malaysia aged 21 years and above).
  10. Based on our research to date, Pages that are of type ‘politician’ are not always included under related Facebook Topics. For example, not all ‘Tony Pua’ (MP, PJ Utara, DAP) Page likes are included under interest in ‘DAP’. However, because Facebook does not make Topic details available we cannot easily determine which politicians, if any, were included.
  11. Statistics on the Opposition primarily refer to component parties of the former Pakatan Rakyat – PKR, PAS and DAP. This includes the ‘Pakatan’ brand name.
  12. July 2017 statistics were collected during a 2-week period in July 2017. As such there may be some differences in totals for political parties when comparing different sections due to changes in collected statistics.
  13. Statistics on the 2017 1st Quarter electoral roll are estimates based on published changes to the 2016 gazetted roll. Ethnic breakdown for new voters are based on profiling methods that we developed and should be considered estimates.

2. List of Acronyms

The following table shows a list of acronyms used in this document.

Acronym Full name
PR Pakatan Rakyat
PH Pakatan Harapan
BN Barisan Nasional
UMNO United Malays National Organisation
GERAKAN Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (also known as PGRM)
MCA Malaysian Chinese Association
MIC Malaysian Indian Congress
PBB Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu Sarawak
PKR Parti Keadilan Rakyat
DAP Democratic Action Party
AMANAH Parti Amanah Negara
PAS Parti Islam Se-Malaysia
PPBM Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia

3. An Overview of Malaysia’s Facebook User Population (July 2017)

3.1 Division by Age and Gender

There are currently 24 million Facebook users in Malaysia. 54.17% are men and 45.83% are women.

From this total, 19 million users are aged 21 years and above. 52.63% are men and 47.37% are women. These are the potential voters on Facebook.

The chart below shows the population distribution by age group. The largest segment of the population is aged between 21 – 30 years.

wp_langdivide_chart1

The table below shows the distribution of Facebook users by state, sorted by the total population:

State Total
(13+ yrs)
Male (%) Female (%) % of Malaysia
Perlis 40,000 52.50 47.50 0.17
Labuan 170,000 52.35 46.47 0.71
Kelantan 290,000 51.72 44.83 1.21
Terengganu 370,000 51.35 48.65 1.54
Negeri Sembilan 380,000 55.26 47.37 1.58
Melaka 390,000 53.85 46.15 1.63
Pahang 500,000 54.00 48.00 2.08
Kedah 610,000 54.10 47.54 2.54
Perak 880,000 51.14 48.86 3.67
Penang 990,000 51.52 48.48 4.13
Sabah 1,000,000 53.00 47.00 4.17
Sarawak 1,100,000 51.82 45.45 4.58
Johor 1,900,000 57.89 45.79 7.92
KL + Selangor 15,000,000 56.67 42.67 62.50

 

The table below shows the distribution of Facebook users by state aged 21 years and above.

State Total (>=21 yrs) Male (%) Female (%) % of Msia (>=21 yrs) % of State (>=21 yrs)
Perlis 33,000 51.52 48.48 0.17 82.50
Labuan 140,000 52.14 45.71 0.74 82.35
Kelantan 230,000 52.17 43.48 1.21 79.31
Terengganu 290,000 51.72 48.28 1.53 78.38
Negeri Sembilan 310,000 54.84 48.39 1.63 81.58
Melaka 320,000 53.13 46.88 1.68 82.05
Pahang 400,000 55.00 47.50 2.11 80.00
Kedah 490,000 53.06 46.94 2.58 80.33
Perak 710,000 50.70 47.89 3.74 80.68
Sabah 790,000 53.16 46.84 4.16 79.00
Penang 840,000 50.00 47.62 4.42 84.85
Sarawak 840,000 53.57 46.43 4.42 76.36
Johor 1,600,000 55.00 45.00 8.42 84.21
KL + Selangor 12,000,000 56.67 44.17 63.16 80.00

 

Based on the last column we can see that Sarawak, Terengganu, Kelantan and Sabah have the highest proportion of young users (below 21 years).

As of 2017 Quarter 1, an estimated 21.64% of registered voters reside in KL and Selangor. In the National Census 2010, 24.35% of Malaysia’s citizens and 24.11% of Malaysia’s total population reside in KL and Selangor.

However according to statistics from Facebook, 62.50% of Facebook users in Malaysia reside in KL and Selangor. This includes Malaysians and foreigners who live there. This is an increase from 50% in August 2016.

The heavy concentration of users in KL and Selangor means that trending content in Malaysia in terms of shares and likes might not reflect what the country is talking about. When it comes to the analysis of interest in local issues such as politics, it is therefore important to evaluate the interests of users in different states.

3.2 Division by Language

The chart below shows the number of potential voters by language used on Facebook, based on information they have shared with Facebook:

wp_langdivide_chart2

Hindi/Tamil = users who use Hindi or Tamil. Only 20 thousand users use both languages

If we added the totals together there would be 30 million users. Given that there are only 19 million Facebook users, there is an overlap between users from each group. Many users speak multiple languages.

93% of potential voters on Facebook use English, Malay or Chinese languages. Because of this high coverage, we were able to design a set of formulas to break up these users into smaller, identifiable groups based on different combinations of spoken languages. The population of users in these groups can then be estimated. The results of this analysis are in the table below:

Language Group Code % of Population (>=21 years) Description
Bilingual Malay + English BME 40.26 Users who speak Malay and English. May also speak other languages except Chinese.
English Only / English + Other languages EO 19.21 Users who speak English but do not speak Malay or Chinese. May also speak other languages.
Malay Only / Malay + Other languages MO 13.95 Users who speak Malay but do not speak English or Chinese. May also speak other languages.
Bilingual Chinese + English BCE 12.37 Users who speak both Chinese and English. May also speak other languages except Malay.
Other Languages Only OTH 7.11 Users who do not speak English, Malay or Chinese
Chinese Only / Chinese + Other languages CO 3.42 Users who speak Chinese but do not speak English or Malay. May also speak other languages.
Bilingual Malay + Chinese BMC 1.84 Users who speak both Malay and Chinese. May also speak other languages except English.
Trilingual Malay + English + Chinese TRI 1.84 Users who speak English, Malay and Chinese. May also speak other languages.

 

The proportion of each group is summarised in the chart below.

wp_langdivide_chart3

From the chart we can observe that:

  • The Bilingual Malay + English (BME) group is both the largest group of users and largest subset of Malay speakers in the country
  • Most Malay speakers on Facebook understand English
  • The Bilingual Chinese + English (BCE) group is the 4th largest group of users and largest subset of Chinese speakers in the country
  • Most Chinese speakers on Facebook understand English
  • A minority of users (3.68%, 700 thousand) speak combinations of Malay and Chinese

While Facebook allows us to collect statistics on users by language, it does not tell us their level of proficiency or what their primary language is. This is why we highlight the fact that users in each group may speak languages other than what is stated. The impact of foreigners in our data can be minimised if we analyse topics that are of primary interest to Malaysians.

Hindi and Tamil languages could not be included in our formula because of the small size of their audience (680 thousand). Some of these users would be covered under the language groups above if they also speak English, Malay or Chinese. The rest would be included under the ‘Other languages only’ group.

The table below shows the distribution of Facebook users by state aged 21 years and above.

State BME BCE EO MO CO BMC TRI OTH
Perlis 53.95 6.58 9.21 19.74 1.32 1.32 1.32 6.56
Labuan 53.13 15.63 9.38 9.38 3.13 3.13 3.13 3.09
Kelantan 58.15 4.81 6.30 24.81 1.00 1.11 1.11 2.71
Terengganu 61.56 1.00 8.44 20.94 1.00 4.06 1.00 2.00
Negeri Sembilan 43.79 16.82 16.52 10.45 4.39 1.67 1.67 4.69
Melaka 45.15 18.48 14.85 8.79 2.73 3.33 3.33 3.34
Pahang 49.52 12.38 9.05 16.19 1.90 2.86 2.86 5.24
Kedah 50.96 14.42 8.65 14.42 1.00 2.88 2.88 4.79
Perak 36.67 20.67 14.00 11.33 6.00 2.00 3.33 6.00
Sabah 52.47 8.02 9.26 21.60 1.00 3.09 1.85 2.71
Penang 30.00 31.18 19.41 4.12 2.94 2.94 2.94 6.47
Sarawak 45.29 17.06 8.82 12.35 2.94 2.94 2.94 7.66
Johor 32.35 20.59 14.12 8.24 8.24 3.53 3.53 9.40
KL + Selangor 35.00 10.83 25.00 17.50 1.00 3.33 1.00 6.34

 

The language groups for each state are shown in the chart below, apart from the Other languages group:

wp_langdivide_chart4

Observations:

  • The Bilingual Malay + English (BME) group is the largest group in each state except Penang
  • The states with the highest percentage of Malay Only (MO) users are Kelantan (24.81%); Sabah (21.60%); Terengganu (20.94%) and Perlis (19.74%).
  • The states with the highest percentage of English Only (EO) users are KL+Selangor (25%); Penang (19.41%); and Negeri Sembilan (16.52%).
  • The states with the highest percentage of Bilingual Chinese + English (BCE) users are Penang (31.18%); Perak (20.67%); Johor (20.59%); and Melaka (18.48%).

For reference here is the ethnic breakdown by state from the National Census 2010:

State Malay
(%)
Chinese
(%)
Indian
(%)
Other Bumiputera (%) Others
(%)
Malay + Bumiputera
(%)
Perlis 85.94 9.51 1.22 0.33 2.99 86.27
Labuan 44.61 15.98 1.28 34.82 3.31 79.43
Kelantan 94.61 3.32 0.25 0.85 0.98 95.45
Terengganu 96.78 2.41 0.22 0.33 0.26 97.11
Negeri Sembilan 58.49 23.85 15.61 1.60 0.45 60.09
Melaka 65.75 26.35 6.23 1.16 0.51 66.91
Pahang 72.96 16.20 4.75 5.28 0.82 78.24
Kedah 77.63 13.58 6.74 0.21 1.85 77.84
Perak 54.88 29.65 12.52 2.57 0.37 57.45
Sabah 15.40 12.46 0.49 65.73 5.92 81.13
Penang 44.74 43.98 10.39 0.45 0.44 45.20
Sarawak 23.28 26.19 0.19 50.12 0.22 73.40
Johor 57.16 33.61 7.17 1.41 0.65 58.57
KL + Selangor 52.49 31.73 13.10 0.02 0.01 52.51

 

The states with the highest percentage of Malay & Bumiputera citizens are Terengganu (97%), Kelantan (96%), Perlis (86%) and Sabah (81%). These are also the states with the highest concentration of Malay Only users.

The states with the highest percentage of Chinese citizens are Penang (44%), Johor (34%), KL + Selangor (32%), Perak (30%) and Melaka (26%). Apart from KL + Selangor, these states have the highest concentration of Bilingual Chinese + English (BCE) users.

Despite some similarities, it is important to note that on Facebook not all Malay speakers are ethnically Malay, Bumiputera Sarawak or Bumiputera Sabah; and not all Chinese speakers are ethnically Chinese.

However it is safe to assume that most ethnic Malays in Peninsular Malaysia can be found in the BME and MO groups. When it comes to politics the patterns on Facebook user interest by language are similar to what we have seen on Twitter and in previous general election results.

 

4. Interest in Political Parties on Facebook

4.1 National Partisanship

The following graph shows the partisanship of interest in political parties by Facebook users in Malaysia aged 21 years and above. Interest in PAS is assumed to include some interest in AMANAH because existing PAS leaders and members migrated to (or in Facebook terms – took interest in) AMANAH. Facebook has not made separate AMANAH figures available yet.

wp_langdivide_chart5

Out of 6.4 million users in Malaysia (aged 21 years and above) that are interested in BN or Opposition parties in July 2017:

  • 56.25% are male and 43.75% are female. Politics draws more interest from men, though it should be noted that 52.63% of the total 19 million potential voters are male
  • 3.1 million are interested in Opposition parties. 61.29% are male and 38.71% are female
  • 5.8 million are interested in BN parties. 55.17% are male and 44.83% are female
  • 9.38% (600 thousand) are exclusively interested in Opposition parties
  • 39.06% (2.5 million) are interested in a mix of Opposition and BN parties
  • 51.56% (3.3 million) are exclusively interested in BN parties

The Opposition started to improve its exclusive share in January 2017, hitting a peak of 16.39% in May. Interest in the Opposition has dropped by 7.01 points in the last 2 months while interest in BN has increased by 5.66 points. 

 

4.2 Understanding Partisanship of Interest

Using Facebook’s Audience Measurement tool, we can calculate the division of interest for users who are interested in political parties. In 2012 we defined 3 groups of users:

  • Opposition Only (Opposition exclusive)
    • Users who only like or show interest in Opposition parties or the ‘Pakatan’ brand
  • Mixed
    • Users who are interested in both BN and the Opposition
  • BN Only (BN exclusive)
    • Users who only like or show interest in BN component parties or the ‘Barisan Nasional’ brand

The exclusive groups indicate the percentage of users who are effectively living in a ‘bubble’ – they only like, share or discuss content related to their side. This can be either positive or negative. Political party supporters who are dedicated to promoting or attacking only one side would fall into this group.

When the Mixed interest group is the largest group, that would mean that most users are actively engaged in talking about or sharing content related to both sides of the political divide. Again, this can be either positive or negative.

When one exclusive group becomes the dominant group, this places greater pressure on the other exclusive group to ‘reach across’ and bring users over to their side, or at least over to the Mixed group. This is the difficulty currently being faced by the Opposition.

An exclusive group’s lowest point represents its hardcore supporters – the portion of the market that can’t be converted. Since November 2012, the Opposition’s lowest point was September 2016 where they had an exclusive share of 4.08%. BN’s lowest point was August 2013 where they had an exclusive share of 23%.

Market reach is another important factor to consider. There are 2 markets – the 6.4 million potential voters who are already interested in politics; and the total 19 million potential voters.

For potential voters interested in politics, this is equal to exclusive interest + Mixed interest:

  • Opposition market reach = 9.38 + 39.06 = 48.44% of potential voters interested in politics
  • BN market reach = 51.56 + 39.06 = 90.62% of potential voters interested in politics

For all potential voters, total market reach is equal to the number of users interested in the party divided by the total potential voters:

  • Total users interested in political parties = 6.4M / 19M * 100 = 68% of potential voters
  • Opposition total market reach = 3.1M / 19M * 100 = 32% of potential voters
  • BN total market reach = 5.8 /19M * 100 = 53% of potential voters

The Opposition has a reach of 48.44% of the total market of political party interest. This means over half of potential voters on Facebook interested in politics have no interest in what Opposition leaders and supporters are sharing and doing (in the media).

Users who are in a bubble are not aware of changes or announcements being made by the other side. For the Opposition their main challenge will be getting users to like their Pages; join their Groups; and champion issues that will improve their market reach. The difficulty of this challenge varies by state and language group, which will be explained in the following sections of this report.

 

4.3 Interest by Political Party

The following chart shows the number of Facebook users in Malaysia interested in each political party, aged 21 years and above.

wp_langdivide_chart6

This table lists the breakdown by gender. Please note that male and female figures might not add up to the total due to rounding issues with Facebook’s figures.

Party Total % Market Share (out of 6.4 million users) Male Female Male (%) Female (%)
DAP 1,300,000 20.31 860,000 450,000 66.15 34.62
PKR 1,800,000 28.13 1,200,000 550,000 66.67 30.56
PAS 950,000 14.84 590,000 350,000 62.11 36.84
UMNO 4,400,000 68.75 2,500,000 1,900,000 56.82 43.18
GERAKAN 150,000 2.34 110,000 40,000 73.33 26.67
MCA 740,000 11.56 550,000 190,000 74.32 25.68
MIC 81,000 1.27 56,000 24,000 69.14 29.63

 

Based on the gender distribution, female users are less interested in Opposition parties, GERAKAN, MCA and MIC. Due to their small audience size, further analysis by state or language group on GERAKAN, MCA and MIC were not possible at this time.

 

4.4 Trends in Political Party Interest

The following graph shows the number of users interested in each party since July 2016.

wp_langdivide_chart7

Observations:

  • The level of interest in UMNO took a dive from 7.7 million users in November 2016 to 5.7 million users in December 2016 until reaching 4.6 million users in January 2017. Since then it has had a steady decline to 4.3 million users in May 2017, followed by 4.5 million users in June 2017 before declining again to 4.4 million users in July 2017. The reason for this drop has not been determined.
  • Between November 2016 and January 2017, UMNO lost 40% of their audience
  • The total loss for UMNO since November 2016 is 43% of their audience
  • Since their drop from 4.6 million users in May 2016 to 1.1 million users in August 2016, DAP hit a low point of 760 thousand users in December 2016 before interest started to pick up again.
  • Between November 2016 and December 2016, DAP lost 31% of their audience
  • Interest in DAP has fallen from 1.5 million users in June 2017 to 1.3 million users in July 2017.
  • MCA had hit a peak of 2.8 million in November 2016, but started to lose its lead over DAP when interest dropped from 2.5 million users in December 2016 to 960 thousand users by January 2017. Interest slowly declined in the following months, reaching 740 thousand users by July 2017.
  • Between November 2016 and January 2017, MCA lost 66% of their audience
  • The total loss since November 2016 for MCA is 74% of their audience.
  • PAS lost its lead over PKR when interest dropped from 2.3 million in July 2016 to 1.6 million in August 2016. PAS next largest drop was when interest dropped from 1.7 million in November 2016 to 920 thousand in December 2016. The current level of interest in July 2017 is 950 thousand users.
  • Between November 2016 and December 2016, PAS lost 46% of their audience
  • The total loss for PAS since July 2016 is 59% of their audience.
  • PKR has maintained a fairly stable level of interest from Facebook users, with the highest recent peak at 2 million users in November 2016 and the lowest recent point at 1.7 million users in April 2017. The current level of interest in July 2017 is 1.8 million users.
  • Between November 2016 and December 2016, PKR lost 10% of their audience
  • GERAKAN started to experience a drop in interest from 790 thousand users in November 2016 to 600 thousand users in December 2016, before reaching 110 thousand users in January 2017.
  • Between November 2016 – January 2017 GERAKAN lost 86% of their audience
  • MIC peaked at 150 thousand users in October 2016. It started to lose users in November, hitting a low of 79 thousand users by January 2017.
  • Between October 2016 – January 2017 MIC lost 47% of their users.

All these patterns point to an event in October or November 2016 that affected the level of interest in all political parties. In terms of percentages PKR was the least affected and GERAKAN was the most affected. In terms of users, UMNO lost the most (3.3 million users).

A drop in interest in any political party can be caused by any of the following:

  • Deletion of user accounts. This seems unlikely to be the main cause because there was no corresponding drop in Malaysia’s Facebook user population. It is not known whether suspended accounts have an impact on the statistics.
  • Deletion of Facebook Groups/Pages that promote/publish content related to the political party
  • Users un-liking Pages and leaving Groups that promote/publish content related to the political party
  • Users previously posting/sharing content about the political party choosing to stop
  • Users previously liking / commenting on posts related to the political party choosing to stop
  • Internal adjustment by Facebook on which Pages, Groups, keywords and content contribute to the statistics for people interested in political party

 

4.5 The Declining Interest in Politics

The graph below shows the level of interest in political parties from potential voters on Facebook since April 2014.

wp_langdivide_chart8

Following events in October/November 2016, interest in political parties has dropped to its lowest point in recent years – 33.68% of potential voters.

This is partly influenced by new users joining Facebook in Malaysia – from 15 million potential voters in August 2016 to 17 million in December 2017 to the current figure of 19 million in July 2017.

When we compare the audience size (in terms of users) between October 2016 to January 2017, BN lost 40% of its audience aged 21-30 years. Within the same period for the same age group, the Opposition lost 25% of its audience.

For users aged 13-20 years for the same period, BN lost 48% of its audience while the Opposition lost 40% of its audience.

Between October 2016 – January 2017, the total number of users interested in political parties dropped from 9.8 million to 6.4 million. The change in audience size by age group is visualised in the chart below.

wp_langdivide_chart9

The message here is that younger generations of Facebook users are losing interest in political parties. Both the Opposition and BN need to work on regaining the interest of potential voters on Facebook.

On May 3rd 2013 (2 days before Polling Day for GE13) the level of interest from potential voters was 23.38%. Since then the highest level of political interest was 63.57% in December 2015. While interest is at a low point now, we don’t expect it to dip below 23%.

 

5. Changes in Political Interest by State

The table below shows the number of potential voters on Facebook interested in each party by state. Putrajaya could not be evaluated due to the low number of users. KL + Selangor is shown as a separate category as 63.16% of Facebook users in Malaysia (aged >=21 years) live there. State breakdown figures do not add up to the total due to rounding issues with Facebook’s figures.

Penang and Melaka could not be shown due to some issues with data collection for these states in May. To get an idea of how party support has changed for these states, please refer to the breakdown by state for Malay and Chinese speakers later in this report.

May 2017

State DAP PKR PAS UMNO
Johor 140,000 130,000 52,000 300,000
Pahang 36,000 45,000 34,000 120,000
Terengganu 21,000 43,000 42,000 120,000
Perak 60,000 58,000 34,000 140,000
Perlis 3,100 3,900 3,000 9,500
Kedah 47,000 56,000 41,000 130,000
Kelantan 16,000 27,000 27,000 67,000
Sarawak 70,000 60,000 19,000 120,000
Sabah 67,000 71,000 26,000 230,000
Negeri Sembilan 29,000 28,000 15,000 72,000
Labuan 12,000 11,000 3,400 24,000
KL + Selangor 930,000 1,100,000 650,000 2,800,000
Malaysia 1,500,000 1,800,000 990,000 4,300,000

 

July 2017

The change in interest by state is calculated as a change in percentage from May 2017 totals e.g. “DAP’s audience dropped by 30.00% in Penang” or “PKR’s audience in Kelantan increased by 33.33%”.

State DAP PKR PAS UMNO DAP Chg (%) PKR Chg (%) PAS Chg (%) UMNO Chg (%)
Johor 140,000 140,000 58,000 350,000 0.00 7.69 11.54 16.67
Penang 98,000 90,000 33,000 160,000
Melaka 26,000 33,000 17,000 77,000
Pahang 35,000 48,000 36,000 110,000 -2.78 6.67 5.88 -8.33
Terengganu 20,000 46,000 45,000 94,000 -4.76 6.98 7.14 -21.67
Perak 58,000 66,000 37,000 150,000 -3.33 13.79 8.82 7.14
Perlis 2,600 4,600 3,400 11,000 -16.13 17.95 13.33 15.79
Kedah 43,000 65,000 46,000 140,000 -8.51 16.07 12.20 7.69
Kelantan 14,000 36,000 36,000 73,000 -12.50 33.33 33.33 8.96
Sarawak 75,000 63,000 18,000 210,000 7.14 5.00 -5.26 75.00
Sabah 55,000 75,000 25,000 390,000 -17.91 5.63 -3.85 69.57
Negeri Sembilan 24,000 32,000 16,000 75,000 -17.24 14.29 6.67 4.17
Labuan 12,000 14,000 3,800 50,000 0.00 27.27 11.76 108.33
KL + Selangor 710,000 1,000,000 560,000 2,600,000 -23.66 -9.09 -13.85 -7.14
Malaysia 1,300,000 1,800,000 950,000 4,400,000 -13.33 0.00 -4.04 2.33

 

Observations:

  • DAP lost users in all states except the following:
    • Johor: No change
    • Sarawak: +7.14%
    • Labuan: No change
    • Penang: Not available
    • Melaka: Not available
  • PKR gained users in all states except the following:
    • KL + Selangor: -9.09%
    • Penang: Not available
    • Melaka: Not available
  • PAS gained users in all states except the following:
    • Sarawak: -5.26%
    • Sabah: -3.85%
    • KL + Selangor: -13.85%
    • Penang: Not available
    • Melaka: Not available
  • UMNO gained users in all states except the following:
    • Terengganu: -21.67%
    • KL + Selangor: -7.14%
    • Penang: Not available
    • Melaka: Not available
  • DAP has less users than PKR in every state except Penang, Sarawak and Johor. DAP is tied with PKR in Johor with 140,000 users
  • PAS has less users than PKR in every state except Kelantan (where PAS and PKR are tied at 36000 users). PAS only has 1000 less users than PKR in Terengganu.
  • PAS has less users than DAP in every state except Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah, Perlis and Pahang

 

The common pattern is that users in KL and Selangor are losing interest in major political parties.

Since May 2017:

  • PKR maintained its total level of interest
  • DAP lost 13% of their users
  • PAS lost 4% of their users
  • Interest in UMNO grew by 2%, with the biggest improvement in East Malaysia

The table below shows the partisanship by state for 6.4 million potential voters. The last column shows the percentage of the 6.4 million users who reside in the state.

State Opposition Only (%) Mixed (%) BN Only (%) % of Malaysia FB Pop
Perlis 13.33 38.00 48.67 0.23
Labuan 8.06 32.26 59.68 0.97
Kelantan 9.00 50.00 41.00 1.56
Terengganu 14.29 40.71 45.00 2.19
Negeri Sembilan 12.73 38.18 49.09 1.72
Melaka 16.67 34.17 49.17 1.87
Pahang 12.50 43.13 44.38 2.50
Kedah 10.00 45.00 45.00 3.12
Perak 16.67 37.50 45.83 3.75
Sabah 2.33 27.91 69.77 6.71
Penang 22.22 44.44 33.33 4.21
Sarawak 12.90 29.03 58.06 4.84
Johor 16.36 34.55 49.09 8.58
KL + Selangor 13.51 35.14 51.35 57.75
Malaysia 12.50 35.94 51.56 100.00

 

Please note the slight difference in the total for Malaysia compared with the figures used for the national partisanship graph (9.38% Opposition Only; 39.06% Mixed; and 51.56% BN Only). This was due to a fluctuation in provided stats during data collection on individual states.

These statistics are visualised in the chart below.

wp_langdivide_chart10

Observations:

  • BN has a high exclusive share of interest in East Malaysia (from 58% – 60%), partly due to the surge of interest in UMNO. This places the Opposition at a disadvantage in spreading their message, particularly in Sabah where it holds an exclusive share of 2%.
  • BN has a higher exclusive share of interest than the Opposition in every state
  • BN’s weakest states are Penang (33%) and Kelantan (41%)
  • The Opposition’s best states are Penang (22%), Melaka (17%), Perak (17%), Johor (16%) and Terengganu (14%)
  • The Opposition’s weakest states are Sabah (2%), Labuan (8%), Kelantan (9%) and Kedah (10%)
  • Mixed interest is above the national average (39.06%) in Kelantan (50%), Terengganu (41%), Pahang (43%), Kedah (45%) and Penang (44%). There is more engagement and interest in both sides on Facebook in these states.

 

6. Interest in Political Parties by Age Group

The charts below show the distribution of users by age group for users in Malaysia interested in BN and the Opposition.

wp_langdivide_chart11

By comparing the two charts we can see that BN has more users in each category and a larger concentration of users aged 13 – 30 compared to the Opposition. The Opposition has a higher concentration of users in older age categories (31+).

The table below shows the distribution of users for each age category as a percentage of each party’s audience. This helps us understand the appeal of each party by age group.

Party Total Audience (13+) Percentage of Users in Age Category (years)
13-20 21-30 31-40 41-50 >50
DAP 1.42M 8.39 35.66 28.67 14.69 12.59
PKR 1.94M 7.41 40.21 29.10 13.23 10.05
PAS 1.06M 10.59 41.39 27.91 12.51 7.60
UMNO 4.98M 11.64 41.42 27.61 11.44 7.89
GERAKAN 161,739 7.05 41.03 28.85 12.18 10.90
MCA 806,826 8.28 37.76 29.23 13.40 11.33
MIC 93,000 12.90 37.63 24.73 11.83 12.90

 

For easier comparison, here is a chart comparing the top 4 parties:

wp_langdivide_chart12

Observations:

  • UMNO and PAS have a higher concentration of young users aged 13 – 30 compared to PKR and DAP. 11.64% of UMNO users and 10.59% of PAS users are aged 13 – 20.
  • PKR and DAP have a higher concentration of users among the older age groups when compared to PAS and UMNO.
  • DAP has a higher concentration of users aged 41-50 and 51 and above compared to other parties.
  • PKR has a higher concentration of users aged 21 – 40 compared to DAP
  • DAP draws more interest from older users.
  • UMNO and PAS draw more interest from young users.
  • The difference between PKR, UMNO and PAS is small for users aged 21-30. However, the next wave of young voters (aged 13-20 years) has a stronger interest in UMNO and PAS compared to PKR. This is meaningful if the General Election is held next year as some of these users might be eligible to register in time to vote.

 

7. Interest in Political Parties by Language Group

7.1 Overview

Out of 6.4 million potential voters on Facebook who are interested in BN or Opposition parties, 6.3 million (98%) understand English, Malay or Chinese languages. This is divided into:

  • 81% Malay speakers
  • 78% English speakers
  • 18% Chinese speakers

The breakdown of these users by language group is shown in the table below with a comparison against the national population figures:

Language Group Code % of Population (>=21 years) % of Population Interested in Political Parties (>=21 years) Difference (points)
Bilingual Malay + English BME 40.26 60.16 19.9
English Only / English + Other languages EO 19.21 3.91 -15.3
Malay Only / Malay + Other languages MO 13.95 14.84 0.89
Bilingual Chinese + English BCE 12.37 11.72 -0.65
Other Languages Only OTH 7.11 <2%
Chinese Only / Chinese + Other languages CO 3.42 <2%
Bilingual Malay + Chinese BMC 1.84 3.91 2.07
Trilingual Malay + English + Chinese TRI 1.84 2.34 0.50

 

The proportion of each group is summarised in the chart below.

wp_langdivide_chart13

The proportion of Chinese Only and Other Languages Only users is not shown due to their small number, which is estimated to be <2% each. There will be no deeper analysis for the political interests of these groups.

Compared to the national population, the proportion of BME users is nearly 20 points higher while the proportion of EO users is 15 points lower. This may be due to most EO users possibly being foreigners who speak English and other languages, who have no interest in our politics.

This make the BME, MO and BCE the 3 most important language groups for politics, covering 86.72% of the market of potential voters on Facebook interested in politics.

The table below shows the division of BN and the Opposition’s respective audiences by language group.

Language Group Code % of Opposition (3.1 million users) % of BN

(5.8 million users)

BN lead over Opposition (points)
Bilingual Malay + English BME 58.06 61.00 2.94
English Only / English + Other languages EO 3.23 4.64 1.41
Malay Only / Malay + Other languages MO 12.90 17.36 4.46
Bilingual Chinese + English BCE 16.13 9.91 -6.22
Bilingual Malay + Chinese BMC 3.23 2.64 -0.59
Trilingual Malay + English + Chinese TRI 3.23 2.64 -0.59

 

The proportion of each group is summarised in the charts below.

wp_langdivide_chart14

Observations:

  • MO users are the 2nd largest group for BN while BCE users are the 2nd largest group for the Opposition.
  • BN leads the Opposition when it comes to BME, MO and EO groups
  • BN has a stronger appeal to Malay speaking audiences
  • The Opposition leads BN when it comes to BCE, BMC and TRI groups
  • The Opposition has a stronger appeal to Chinese speaking audiences
  • BN’s audience is 87% larger than the Opposition with a higher proportion of Malay speakers. The BME and MO markets are what the Opposition needs to expand on.

 

The table below shows the partisanship by language group for 97% of potential voters interested in political parties.

This does not include the Other Languages group or Chinese Only group, which is estimated to be 3.12% in total.

Language Group Code Opposition Only Mixed BN Only % of Audience
Bilingual Malay+English BME 12.86 33.90 53.25 60.16
Malay Only / Malay + Other languages MO 2.89 38.99 58.12 14.84
Bilingual Chinese+English BCE 27.33 39.33 33.33 11.72
Bilingual Malay+Chinese BMC 29.27 19.51 51.22 3.91
English Only / English + Other languages EO 1.92 36.54 61.54 3.91
Trilingual Malay / English / Chinese TRI 3.33 63.33 33.33 2.34

 

Examples of how to read the table:

  • BME speakers, representing 60.16% of potential voters interested in political parties, are divided between 12.86% exclusively interested in the Opposition, 53.25% exclusively interested in BN and 33.9% interested in both coalitions.
  • EO speakers, representing 3.91% of potential voters interested in political parties, are divided between 1.92% exclusively interested in the Opposition, 61.54% exclusively interested in BN and 36.54% interested in both coalitions.

 

The chart below shows the divide between the language groups.

wp_langdivide_chart15

Observations:

  • BN holds the largest share among BME, MO, EO and BMC users. Their smallest share is with the BCE and TRI users, where BN has an exclusive share of 33% with each group.
  • The BME and MO groups combined represent 75% of potential voters interested in political parties on Facebook.
  • BN has an exclusive share of 53% of the BME group and 58% of the MO group.
  • The Opposition has an exclusive share of 13% of the BME group and 3% of the MO group.
  • The Opposition’s smallest share is with the MO group and EO group (2%).
  • The Opposition’s largest share of interest is from BCE users (27%) and BMC users (29%).
  • The Opposition has a smaller exclusive share of every language group compared to BN, but the indication here is that the Opposition’s strongest influence is among Chinese speakers.
  • The degree of Mixed interest among BME, MO and BCE users (34% – 39%) indicates that over a third of users are aware of and/or talking about both sides.
    • This can be considered average as based on our historical record of national interest on Facebook, the level of Mixed interest was at an average of 35% between July 2016 and July 2017
    • National Mixed interest has not dropped below 29% since GE13. The highest record was 62% in June 2015 at the height of the 1MDB issue
    • The Opposition needs issues / leaders that draw interest from the BN exclusive market among the BME and MO groups

 

7.2 Identifying the Appeal by Language for Major Political Parties

Out of 6.4 million Facebook users who are potential voters interested in political parties, 81% speak Malay, 78% speak English and 18% speak Chinese.

The table below shows the distribution of users for each language group as a percentage of each party’s audience. This helps us understand the appeal of each party by language compared to the national level of interest in politics.

Party Total Audience Percentage of Users in Language Group
BME MO BCE BMC EO TRI
DAP 1,300,000 52.31 7.69 24.62 <1% <1% 7.69
PKR 1,800,000 61.94 11.94 10.28 4.72 0.83 4.72
PAS 950,000 72.47 21.95 2.26 1.21 0.89 1.21
UMNO 4,400,000 65.00 15.00 7.73 3.18 3.64 3.18
National 6,400,000 60.16 14.84 11.72 3.91 3.91 2.34

 

Observations:

  • DAP
    • DAP has the lowest percentage of Malay Only speakers at 7.69% and the highest percentage of Bilingual Chinese + English speakers (24.62%).
    • 32% – 33% of DAP’s audience speak Chinese, which is almost double the national proportion of Chinese speakers (18%).
    • DAP’s audience also has the highest percentage of Trilingual speakers (7.69%) which is over 3 times higher than the national proportion (2.34%).
    • Within the Opposition, DAP has the largest market reach among Chinese speakers at 37% – 38% of the total 1.152 million Chinese speakers.
    • This makes DAP a party with a very strong appeal to Chinese speakers.
  • PKR
    • PKR has a good appeal to Malay speakers and Chinese speakers – 83% of PKR’s audience speak Malay while 20% speak Chinese, placing each group 2 points above the national proportion of Malay speakers and Chinese speakers.
    • When it comes to language groups, PKR has the highest proportion of BMC speakers (4.72%) and the 2nd highest proportion of Trilingual speakers (4.72%).
    • Malay Only speakers are PKR’s weak point, as their 2-point advantage with Malay speakers comes from the higher BMC and TRI groups. A more balanced distribution would have a higher MO value and lower BMC / TRI values.
  • PAS
    • PAS has the highest percentage of Malay Only speakers at 21.95%.
    • BME + MO groups combined make up 94.42% of PAS’ audience, making PAS the party with the strongest appeal to Malay speakers.
    • PAS’ weak point is with Chinese speakers, which make up 4.68% of their audience.
  • UMNO
    • UMNO’s total proportion of Malay, Chinese and English speakers is the same as the national proportion – 81% Malay speakers, 78% English speakers and 18% Chinese speakers.
    • This implies that UMNO has a balanced appeal to users of all languages, which is not surprising as UMNO has a market share of 68.75%.
    • UMNO has a greater weightage for the BME group (5 points higher than national) and a smaller weightage for BCE group (4 points lower than national).
    • UMNO has a slightly better appeal with the BME group that makes up the majority of Facebook users in Malaysia.
    • UMNO also has an advantage with English Only speakers (3.64%) compared to individual Opposition parties which have <1% each.

 

7.3 The Division by Language between PKR and DAP

The table below shows the divide between PKR and DAP’s combined audience (total: 2.5 million users) for the 3 major language groups (representing 2.215 million users):

Language Group PKR Only (%) Both (%) DAP Only (%)
Bilingual Malay+English 55.12 18.48 26.40
Malay Only / Malay + Other languages 68.25 17.30 14.44
Bilingual Chinese+English 16.88 31.17 51.95

 

In chart form:

wp_langdivide_chart16

PKR depends on DAP to reach Chinese speakers while DAP depends on PKR to reach Malay speakers. However Chinese speakers represent only 18% of the potential voter market interested in politics. DAP is more dependent on PKR to reach the much larger BME and MO groups which include the majority of Malaysians, not just ethnic Malays.

 

8. Analysing the Political Interests of Malay and Chinese Speakers

We have now established that there is a clear divide in political interest by language between Malay speakers (mainly the BME and MO groups) and Chinese speakers (mainly the BCE group).

The table below shows the comparison between Malay speakers, Chinese speakers and National Interest.

Language Spoken % of Population Opposition Only (%) Mixed (%) BN Only (%)
National
(All Languages)
100 12.50 35.94 51.56
Malay Speakers 81 11.54 34.61 53.85
Chinese Speakers 18 28.18 36.36 35.46

 

BN has a 2.29 point larger market share with Malay speakers but a 16.11 point smaller market share with Chinese speakers. It is very difficult for BN to reach Chinese speakers compared to Malay speakers.

For the Opposition their reach with the Malay-speaking market is already quite small at 11.54% and their strength is with the Chinese-speaking market with a 28% exclusive share.

 

The Partisanship of Malay Speakers

The table below shows the partisanship by state for 5.2 million potential voters who speak Malay (representing 81% of 6.4 million potential voters interested in political parties). This includes BME, MO, BMC and TRI groups. Kelantan, Terengganu and Perlis could not be shown due to some issues with data collection for these states for this table.

State Malay Speaker Interest Lead Over National Interest
(
= Malay Speaker Interest – National Interest)
Opposition Only (%) Mixed (%) BN Only (%) Opposition Only (points) Mixed (points) BN Only (points)
Labuan 4.00 34.00 62.00 -4.06 1.74 2.32
Negeri Sembilan 9.09 38.64 52.27 -3.64 0.45 3.18
Melaka 9.68 40.86 49.46 -6.99 6.69 0.30
Pahang 14.29 39.29 46.43 1.79 -3.84 2.05
Kedah 11.11 41.67 47.22 1.11 -3.33 2.22
Perak 11.76 39.41 48.82 -4.90 1.91 2.99
Sabah 2.63 26.32 71.05 0.31 -1.59 1.29
Penang 12.50 49.38 38.13 -9.72 4.93 4.79
Sarawak 8.00 31.20 60.80 -4.90 2.17 2.74
Johor 7.89 39.47 52.63 -8.47 4.93 3.54
KL + Selangor 10.00 36.67 53.33 -3.51 1.53 1.98

 

In chart form:

wp_langdivide_chart17

By focusing on the partisanship of Malay speakers, certain differences become apparent:

  • The Opposition’s exclusive share among Malay speakers is lower than the national interest in 9 states, with the worst drop in Penang (-9.72 points); Johor (-8.47 points); and Melaka (-6.99 points). It is higher in Pahang (+1.79 points), Kedah (+1.11 points) and Sabah (+0.31 points).
  • BN’s exclusive share among Malay speakers is higher than the national interest level in every state, with the biggest leads in Penang (+4.79 points); Johor (+3.54 points); and Negeri Sembilan (+3.18 points)
  • The Opposition’s higher exclusive share per-state at the national level was being supported by non-Malay speakers. This would have come from users in EO, BCE, CO and OTH groups.
  • Non-Malay speakers had also contributed to a higher level of Mixed interest and BN exclusive interest in Pahang, Kedah and Sabah. This is why both sides show increases in their exclusive share when looking only at Malay speakers. It also means that Malay speakers are more partisan and engage less with each other in these 3 states.
  • BN has a stronger influence on Malay speakers (by an average of 2.49 points per-state), which means that there is a larger base of Malay speakers that are only aware of and talking about issues related to BN.

 

The Partisanship of Chinese Speakers

The table below shows the partisanship by state for 1.152 million potential voters who speak Chinese (representing 18% of 6.4 million potential voters). This includes BCE, CO, BMC and TRI groups. Perlis could not be shown due to the small number of Chinese speakers residing in the state.

State Chinese Speaker Interest Lead Over National Interest
(
= Chinese Speaker Interest – National Interest)
Opposition Only (%) Mixed (%) BN Only (%) Opposition Only (points) Mixed (points) BN Only (points)
Labuan 13.33 34.67 52.00 5.27 2.41 -7.68
Kelantan 17.86 41.07 41.07 8.86 -8.93 0.07
Terengganu 16.95 42.37 40.68 2.66 1.66 -4.32
Negeri Sembilan 31.82 31.82 36.36 19.09 -6.36 -12.73
Melaka 33.33 33.33 33.33 16.67 -0.83 -15.83
Pahang 29.17 37.50 33.33 16.67 -5.63 -11.04
Kedah 28.13 37.50 34.38 18.13 -7.50 -10.63
Perak 35.94 31.25 32.81 19.27 -6.25 -13.02
Sabah 4.84 25.81 69.35 2.51 -2.10 -0.41
Penang 38.00 45.00 17.00 15.78 0.56 -16.33
Sarawak 23.94 32.39 43.66 11.04 3.36 -14.40
Johor 33.33 33.33 33.33 16.97 -1.21 -15.76
KL + Selangor 28.00 36.00 36.00 14.49 0.86 -15.35

 

In chart form:

wp_langdivide_chart18

Observations:

  • The Opposition’s exclusive share among Chinese speakers is higher than the national interest in every state. The states with the biggest leads are Perak (+19.27 points); Negeri Sembilan (+19.09 points); and Kedah (+18.13 points).
  • BN’s exclusive share among Chinese speakers is lower than the national interest level in every state except Kelantan, with the largest drops in Penang (-16.33 points); Melaka (-15.83 points); Johor (-15.76 points) and KL + Selangor (-15.35 points).
  • BN’s higher exclusive share per-state at the national level was being supported by non-Chinese speakers. This would have come from users in EO, BME, MO and OTH groups.
  • The Opposition has a stronger influence on Chinese speakers (by an average of 12.88 points per-state), which means that there is a larger base of Chinese speakers that are only aware of and talking about issues related to the Opposition.

 

Malay Speaker Interest by Party

The table below shows the number of potential voters on Facebook interested in each party who speak Malay, by state, in July 2017. The change in interest by state is calculated as a change in percentage from May 2017 totals e.g. “PKR’s Malay-speaking audience dropped by 6.38% in KL and Selangor” or “PAS’ Malay-speaking audience in Kelantan increased by 34.62%”.

State DAP PKR PAS UMNO DAP Chg (%) PKR Chg (%) PAS Chg (%) UMNO Chg (%)
Johor 74000 100000 55000 280000 -8.64 11.11 14.58 12.00
Penang 45000 58000 31000 120000 0.00 7.41 3.33 21.21
Melaka 17000 27000 17000 66000 -22.73 3.85 0.00 -5.71
Pahang 27000 43000 35000 98000 0.00 10.26 6.06 -10.91
Terengganu 19000 45000 45000 92000 -5.00 9.76 12.50 -23.33
Perak 34000 53000 36000 120000 -8.11 17.78 16.13 0.00
Perlis 2300 4300 3300 10000 -8.00 19.44 13.79 16.28
Kedah 33000 58000 45000 130000 -8.33 18.37 15.38 8.33
Kelantan 14000 35000 35000 71000 7.69 40.00 34.62 18.33
Sarawak 52000 53000 18000 180000 1.96 6.00 0.00 130.77
Sabah 48000 69000 25000 350000 -12.73 6.15 0.00 84.21
Negeri Sembilan 15000 27000 15000 65000 -25.00 17.39 7.14 4.84
Labuan 8700 12000 3700 41000 8.75 22.45 15.63 115.79
KL + Selangor 490000 880000 550000 2200000 -30.99 -6.38 -11.29 -12.00
Malaysia 880000 1500000 920000 3800000 -20.00 0.00 -3.16 0.00

 

Observations:

  • DAP lost users in 10 states with the worst drops in:
    • KL + Selangor: -30.99%
    • Negeri Sembilan: -25.00%
    • Melaka: -22.73%
    • Sabah: -12.73%
  • DAP gained users in Kelantan (+7.69%); Labuan (+8.75%); and Sarawak (+1.96%)
  • DAP maintained its Malay-speaking audience in Penang and Pahang
  • PKR gained users in all states except KL and Selangor where they lost 6.38% of their users
  • PKR’s largest gains were in the following states:
    • Kelantan: +40.00%
    • Labuan: +22.45%
    • Perlis: +19.44%
    • Kedah: +18.37%
  • PAS maintained their Malay-speaking audience in Melaka, Sabah and Sarawak.
  • PAS gained users in all other states except KL and Selangor (where they lost 11.29% of their users).
  • PAS’ largest gains were in the following states:
    • Kelantan: +34.62%
    • Perak: +16.13%
    • Labuan: +15.63%
    • Kedah: +15.38%
  • UMNO gained users in all states except the following:
    • Terengganu: -23.33%
    • KL and Selangor: -12.00%
    • Pahang: -10.91%
    • Melaka: -5.71%
  • UMNO’s largest gains were in East Malaysia and Penang
  • DAP has less Malay speakers than PKR in every state
  • DAP has more Malay speakers than PAS in Johor, Penang, Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan
  • PAS has more Malay speakers than DAP in 8 states and are tied with DAP in 2 states
  • PKR has more Malay speakers than PAS and DAP in every state except in Kelantan and Terengganu (where PKR and PAS have the same number of users)

 

The common pattern is that Malay-speaking users in Labuan, Sarawak, Kelantan and Penang are showing greater interest in major political parties (except DAP in Penang and PAS in Sarawak). Malay speakers in KL and Selangor are turning away from political parties, particularly DAP.

On a national scale Malay speakers make up 81% of potential voters interested in political parties, which makes decreasing audience sizes very significant.

Since May 2017:

  • PKR maintained its Malay-speaking audience. Gains in other states were offset by losses in KL and Selangor.
  • DAP lost 20% of their Malay-speaking audience (220,000 users)
  • PAS lost 3.16% of their Malay-speaking audience (30,000 users)
  • UMNO maintained its Malay-speaking audience. Gains in other states were offset by losses in KL, Selangor, Melaka, Terengganu and Pahang

 

Chinese Speaker Interest by Party

The table below shows the number of potential voters on Facebook interested in each party who speak Chinese, by state, in July 2017. The change in interest by state is calculated as a change in percentage from May 2017 totals e.g. “PAS’ Chinese-speaking audience dropped by 2.94% in Johor” or “DAP’s Chinese-speaking audience in KL and Selangor increased by 18.75%”.

Due to the small number of Chinese-speaking users who are interested in PAS, a detailed state breakdown was not possible for all states. Those states where PAS has less than 1000 Chinese speakers interested in them are marked with a ‘-‘ to indicate that their growth rate can’t be measured in detail.

State DAP PKR PAS UMNO DAP Chg (%) PKR Chg (%) PAS Chg (%) UMNO Chg (%)
Johor 70000 43000 3300 73000 20.69 4.88 -2.94 265.00
Penang 54000 32000 2200 44000 35.00 18.52 4.76 238.46
Melaka 11000 7300 13000 11.11 5.80 188.89
Pahang 8900 5600 12000 17.11 9.80 135.29
Terengganu 1500 1700 3700 25.00 6.25 15.63
Perak 25000 13000 1500 27000 25.00 18.18 7.14 206.82
Kedah 12000 8500 1500 16000 22.45 8.97 7.14 175.86
Kelantan 1400 1700 3600 27.27 41.67 140.00
Sarawak 27000 12000 42000 35.00 20.00 663.64
Sabah 11000 9200 56000 23.60 16.46 471.43
Negeri Sembilan 8800 5200 10000 23.94 8.33 170.27
Labuan 4600 2500 11000 48.39 25.00 685.71
KL + Selangor 190000 130000 18000 260000 18.75 8.33 -14.29 179.57
Malaysia 430000 270000 33000 580000 22.86 12.50 -5.71 222.22

 

Observations:

  • DAP gained users in all states. The largest gains were in:
    • Labuan: +48.39%
    • Sarawak: +35.00%
    • Penang: +35.00%
    • Kelantan: +27.27%
  • PKR gained users in all states. The largest gains were in:
    • Kelantan: +41.67%
    • Labuan: +25.00%
    • Sarawak: +20.00%
    • Penang: +18.52%
  • PAS lost users in Johor (-2.94%), KL and Selangor (-14.29%).
  • PAS gained users in Perak (+7.14%); Kedah (+7.14%); and Penang (+4.76%)
  • UMNO made very large gains in terms of the number of Chinese speakers.
    • 400,000 additional Chinese-speaking users took interest in UMNO between May and July, causing UMNO’s growth rate to reach 222.22%.
    • The largest increase in terms of users was in KL and Selangor (167,000 users, 180% increase); Johor (53,000 users, 265% growth rate) and Sabah (46,200 users, 471% increase)
  • DAP has more Chinese speakers than PKR in every state except Kelantan and Terengganu
  • UMNO has more Chinese speakers than DAP in every state except Penang

 

The common pattern is that Chinese-speaking users are showing greater interest in UMNO, PKR and DAP. Unlike DAP, PKR experienced smaller growth rates (<10%) in 8 states.

Since May 2017:

  • PKR’s Chinese-speaking audience grew by 12.50% (30,000 users)
  • DAP’s Chinese-speaking audience grew by 22.86% (80,000 users)
  • PAS lost 5.71% of their Chinese-speaking audience (2,000 users)
  • UMNO grew its base of Chinese speakers by 222.22% (400,000 users)

 

9. Interest in Political Parties by Language Group and Age Group

9.1 Bilingual Malay + English Users (BME)

There are 4.28 million BME users aged 13 years and above interested in political parties. Those aged 21 and above represent 60.16% of the potential voter market interested in politics. The table below shows the division by age group for BME users.

Age Group Opposition Only (%) Mixed (%) BN Only (%)
13-20 9.09 22.32 68.59
21-30 10.19 33.51 56.30
31-40 9.21 39.91 50.88
41-50 12.63 35.79 51.58
51+ 6.23 47.87 45.90

 

In chart form:

wp_langdivide_chart19

Observations:

  • BN has a high exclusive share of the 13-20 year-old market at 69% and the 21-30 year-old market at 56%. This means that the Opposition is not doing enough to draw interest from users in these age groups.
  • Mixed interest is higher for BME speakers aged 31-40 years and 51+ years. This means that users in this age group have a greater interest in politics compared to users in the other age groups.

 

9.2 Malay Only / Malay + Other Languages Users (MO)

There are 1.15 million MO users aged 13 years and above interested in political parties. Those aged 21 and above represent 14.84% of the potential voter market interested in politics. The table below shows the division by age group for MO users.

Age Group Opposition Only (%) Mixed (%) BN Only (%)
13-20 3.23 26.13 70.65
21-30 2.67 28.00 69.33
31-40 1.47 36.76 61.76
41-50 0.00 42.42 57.58
51+ 16.52 22.61 60.87

 

In chart form:

wp_langdivide_chart20

Observations:

  • BN has a steadily decreasing exclusive share from MO speakers aged 13-20 years (70.65%) to 41-50 years (57.58%). BN is doing well with younger users.
  • The Opposition has a steadily decreasing exclusive share from MO speakers aged 13-20 years (3.23%) to 31-40 years (1.47%). But while their exclusive share is decreasing, their total reach is increasing due to the increase in Mixed interest.
  • The share of Mixed interest is increasing with age, from MO speakers aged 13-20 years (26.13%) to 41-50 years (42.42%). Older users show greater interest in both sides.
  • The Opposition is at the losing end with MO speakers, both in terms of exclusive reach and total reach (<50% for all ages)

 

9.3 Bilingual Chinese + English Users (BCE)

There are 930 thousand BCE users aged 13 years and above interested in political parties. Those aged 21 and above represent 11.72% of the potential voter market interested in politics. The table below shows the division by age group for BCE users.

Age Group Opposition Only (%) Mixed (%) BN Only (%)
13-20 26.32 31.05 42.63
21-30 32.84 22.39 44.78
31-40 36.54 25.00 38.46
41-50 37.04 29.63 33.33
51+ 29.52 32.38 38.10

 

In chart form:

wp_langdivide_chart21

Observations:

  • BN has a steadily decreasing exclusive share from BCE speakers aged 21-30 years (44.78%) to 41-50 years (33.33%).
  • The Opposition has a steadily increasing exclusive share from BCE speakers aged 13-20 years (26.32%) to 41-50 years (37.04%).
  • This is an indicator of pro-Opposition partisanship increasing with age, where older BCE speakers have a tendency to only take interest in the Opposition.
  • However BN still has a higher exclusive share and total reach compared to the Opposition for all age groups except 41-50 year olds. Compared to BME and MO speakers, BN cannot reach 27% of the total BCE market.

 

10. Key Points to Consider

The most important language groups for potential voters on Facebook are Bilingual Malay + English (BME) speakers, Malay Only (MO) speakers and Bilingual Chinese + English (BCE) speakers. As the statistics have shown, MO speakers are the weakest market for the Opposition while BCE speakers are the weakest market for BN.

This report has demonstrated how language groups can be used to segment and identify the interests of different communities on Facebook by age and state. While we cannot identify the ethnicity of users, there is a clear divide in political interest by language and trends can be observed.

Based on this research, the following points are worth keeping in mind.

 

Reaching Young Malay Voters Is Important

In a previous report on Pakatan Rakyat’s performance with the Malay electorate in GE13 (https://politweet.wordpress.com/2015/07/27/analysing-pakatan-rakyats-performance-with-malay-voters-in-peninsular-malaysia-ge13/), we highlighted the following key points:

  • Support for PR dropped by 2 points while support for BN increased by 2 points
  • PR gained 5 points from Malay youth (aged 35 and below) while BN lost 3 points
  • BN made significant gains among the Malay electorate, with positive swings in 9 states
  • PAS had the highest support from Malay youth (73% leaning PAS in PAS seats) followed by BN (72% leaning BN in BN seats)
  • There was a common pattern of young Malays moving closer to PR and middle-aged and older Malays moving away from PR or showing less improvement
  • Young Malay voters can be a strong asset for the Opposition in urban and semi-urban seats provided that the positive swing of support from GE13 can be repeated

Based on our current estimates for the first quarter of 2017, there are 14.5 million voters registered to vote. This is divided into the following primary ethnic groups:

  • 54.56% are Malay/Muslim Bumiputera (GE13: 52.63%)
  • 28.56% are Chinese (GE13: 29.68%)
  • 7.04% are Indian (GE13: 7.31%)
  • 3.92% are Bumiputera Sarawak (GE13: 4.06%)
  • 4.33% are Bumiputera Sabah (GE13: 4.89%)
  • 1.26% are from Other Ethnic Groups (GE13: 1.43%)
  • 0.34% could not be profiled

Compared to GE13, the proportion of Malay voters has increased by 1.93 points. This is an electorate which BN has an advantage with reaching on Facebook.

As of the first quarter of 2017, there are an estimated 1.8 million new voters eligible to vote in the next general election. Here is a breakdown of new voters by ethnic group:

  • 68% are Malay/Muslim Bumiputera
  • 20% are Chinese
  • 5% are Indian
  • 7% are Other Bumiputera / Other Ethnic Groups or could not be profiled

The distribution by race and age group for Malays, Chinese and Indians is shown in the chart below.

wp_langdivide_chart22

77% of new voters are between the ages of 21 – 30 years. 72% of voters in this age group (993 thousand) are Malay/Muslim Bumiputera. This makes young Malay speakers on Facebook a vital demographic for political parties to reach.

 

People Are Losing Interest in Politics

Facebook users are losing interest in politics, particularly in KL and Selangor where PAS, PKR, DAP and UMNO lost a share of their audience between May – July 2017. DAP was the most affected, losing 24% of their audience in both states combined. KL and Selangor are where we normally find strong Opposition supporters, so the loss is quite significant.

37% of Facebook users aged 21-30 have lost interest in political parties between October 2016 to January 2017, with BN suffering a greater loss (40%) compared to the Opposition (25%). With the next wave of young voters aged 13-20, BN lost 48% of their audience while the Opposition lost 40% of their audience.

Clearly both political sides are losing the interest of the youth on Facebook.  This should be a cause for concern for UMNO and DAP given that both parties experienced the biggest losses in audience size since 2016.

Of the 6.4 million users who are still remain interested in politics:

  • BN draws greater interest compared to the Opposition, particularly from Malay Only (MO) speakers
  • BN has a stronger base with Malay speakers (54% exclusive share) while the Opposition has a stronger base with Chinese speakers (28% exclusive share)
  • 56% of BME speakers aged 21-30 years and 69% of MO speakers aged 21-30 years are only interested in BN.
  • UMNO and PAS draw greater interest from younger users aged 30 and below, compared to PKR and DAP which have older audiences
  • UMNO and PAS lost a smaller share of their audience in KL and Selangor compared to PKR and DAP

As people lose interest in politics or withdraw into their own ‘bubbles’ a problem emerges for both BN and the Opposition – how do they reach the other side?

If 69% of young MO speakers are only interested in BN that leaves the Opposition with a market reach of 31% with the remainder, and no reach with those who have lost interest in politics. BN has a similar problem with Chinese speakers where they cannot reach 28% of the potential voter market. A lack of awareness by the electorate can be a serious problem for political parties when they talk about issues; ideas; or policy changes.

A substantial number of young Malays on Facebook are not aware of developments by the Opposition or BN, and we won’t know how serious the apathy is until the next GE campaign starts. If they continue to be disinterested on Facebook then this can translate into lower turnout rates.

 

The Opposition Is Losing Ground to BN

Interest in the Opposition has been on a downward trend from May – July 2017, reaching a low point of 9.38% exclusive market share. This trend is primarily due to Malay speakers losing interest in DAP and PAS. The increased interest in PKR and DAP from Chinese speakers was not enough to cover the loss of Malay speakers.

The Opposition has a reach of 48.44% of the total market of political party interest. This means over half of potential voters on Facebook interested in politics have no interest in what Opposition leaders and supporters are sharing and doing (in the media).

BN’s audience is 87% larger than the Opposition with a higher proportion of Malay speakers. The BME and MO markets are what the Opposition needs to expand on. Such a large exclusive share for BN means the Opposition has not established a sufficient base via Pages and Groups. This will pose a problem when they need to spread their message during the election period.

In East Malaysia, BN has such a strong lead that it seems unlikely that the Opposition will be able to spread their influence on Facebook there before the next GE.

 

Trends Indicate UMNO May Have an Advantage with Malay Voters

PAS and UMNO have the strongest appeal to prospective ethnic Malay voters on Facebook because:

  • They have the highest proportion of Bilingual Malay + English (BME) speakers and Malay-Only (MO) speakers.
  • They have a higher percentage of young users in their respective audiences compared to PKR and DAP. This means young Malays are more likely to be interested in PAS and UMNO.
  • PAS and BN combined have a 70% exclusive share of MO speakers of all ages. PKR and DAP can only reach a third of the MO speakers market.

Both PAS and DAP have been losing interest from Malay speakers while PKR has maintained their Malay-speaking audience. But PKR has a smaller base of BME and MO speakers compared to PAS and UMNO. This gives UMNO a greater advantage in reaching Malay voters on Facebook.

 

Prospects for The Opposition

Among BME, MO and BCE speakers, there is a trend of Mixed interest increasing with each age group. A high level of Mixed interest is beneficial for the Opposition because it gives them an opportunity to grow their exclusive share. There is the possibility that the Opposition may improve their performance with older voters in the next GE.

DAP’s dependence on PKR to reach Malay speakers on Facebook combined with their aging audience is a problem for DAP in Mixed seats. Both DAP and PKR need to improve their influence among users aged 21-30 years.

Given that statistics for PPBM are not available on Facebook yet, we did a separate study to explore a what-if scenario: What if Tun Mahathir’s audience was merged with the Opposition?

The result of that study was that Tun Mahathir can add at most 400 thousand users to the existing 3.1 million users in July 2017. This would bring the total to 3.5 million users vs. BN’s 5.8 million users and add 5.33 points the Opposition’s exclusive share. The chart below shows how this compares with the July 2017 figures.

wp_langdivide_chart23

This brings the Opposition’s market reach from 48.44% to 51.47%, a very small improvement. Even if Tun Mahathir, PAS, PKR and DAP were on the same side, it is not enough to significantly weaken BN’s reach.

Opposition parties need to identify why Malay speakers are turning away from them on Facebook, then work on a plan to encourage users to like their Pages; join their Groups; and champion issues that will improve their market reach.

Update (13th October 2017): Corrected errors in statistics in Section 4.1 and Section 10 (Reaching Young Malay Voters are Important). This was due to an issue with the ‘copy and paste’ function for numbers in lists. This affected the listed breakdown of interest in Opposition and BN parties in Section 4.1, and the listed ethnic breakdown for the first quarter 2017 voters in Section 10. We apologise for the oversight.

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Written by politweet

October 11, 2017 at 1:11 pm

7 Responses

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  1. lol, english educated people more % bn supporter than malay, and more chinese go for whitewashing

    enkipendragon

    October 13, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    • It could be that the high number of English users in the survey is because they post a lot of stuff in “simple” English content like motivational one-liners, but aren’t fluent in real life and thus don’t read news in English or use English websites. Like the article said, the polls couldn’t gauge primary language or proficiency. Interface language option is also a factor: it could be that users leave the interface in English but hardly post anything in English. (Refer: https://writehanded.co/5-key-statistics-malaysian-facebook-users-2016/)

      CL

      October 16, 2017 at 10:31 pm

  2. […] adalah artikel daripada sebuah laman web (klik) yang menyeneraikan statistik sokongan setiap bangsa pada setiap parti politik di Malaysia. Akhir […]

  3. […] adalah artikel daripada sebuah laman web (klik) yang menyenaraikan statistik sokongan setiap bangsa pada setiap parti politik di Malaysia. Akhir […]

  4. Hi, interesting findings.

    I note some rather interesting anomalies in the data. KL+Sel has a population of less than 9m in total and for those above 20, less than 6m in 2017, according to DOSM latest pop. est. This includes both foreigners and natives. FB users above 21 as per your data is 12m. That’s 6m extra people – 20% of the entire Malaysian population itself.

    What do you think account for this large discrepancy?

    1) Crazy amount of undocumented migrants workers concentrated in KL+Sel who are fluent in Malay and English and have interest is Malaysian politics?

    2) Systematic large scale fake FB users aligned to certain political party to influence the social media?

    3) FB locality registration issue? Btw, your national data implies an almost 90% penetration rate for FB for those above 21.

    Thank you.

    Elanor Tan

    October 15, 2017 at 10:00 am

    • Hi Elanor,

      Based on our database of profile Twitter users, 50% of Malaysia’s Twitter users are in KL + Selangor. This is based on geo-tagged tweets so this distribution is very precise based on active users. For Facebook we have to rely on their system for providing statistics so we can’t do much about anomalies.

      In March 2015 the concentration of FB users in KL and Selangor was 48%-50% and in August 2016 the concentration was 50%. Now it has increased to 62.50% so that is a large discrepancy of 12.5 points, but the interest in politics has not increased.

      In March 2015 the total FB user population was 17 million.
      In March 2016 the total FB user population was 18 million.
      In August 2016 the total FB user population was 19 million.
      In July 2017 the total FB user population was 24 million.

      So the major increase was 5 million users between August 2016 to July 2017, which caused the 12.5 point increase for KL and Selangor.

      Among the possible reasons that we can think of for this increase are:

      1. Fake accounts being registered, which we have seen before used to increase the ‘likes’ of local branded FB pages. We have seen such bot networks in previous years but unfortunately we don’t have a way to detect such accounts any more.

      2. A change in how FB determines what state you are from

      3. Migration of people to KL and Selangor to work or to reside here. Large numbers of foreigners do contribute, which is probably why the ‘English-Only’ group is so large before we filter for political interest.

      4. People registering multiple accounts; or registering new accounts to replace old/lost ones.

      Unfortunately there is no way to explore these reasons to determine what contributed the most to the increase, or if there are other reasons.

      Collecting state-level interests for different brands (not just politics) could provide a way to provide some answers when there are changes in the user distribution by state. But it is too costly to do that on a regular basis.

      Regards,

      Kamal

      politweet

      October 15, 2017 at 2:19 pm

      • Hi Kamal,

        Thank you for the comprehensive reply – appreciate it.

        The 5m increase in a year, concentrated in KL+Sel is highly suspicious!

        Best,
        Elanor

        Elanor Tan

        October 16, 2017 at 10:19 am


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