Observing Malaysian Social Media

Posts Tagged ‘Chinese

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.


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:


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.


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

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Written by politweet

October 11, 2017 at 1:11 pm

Response to The Race of Bersih 4 Protesters by Twitter Users in Peninsular Malaysia

1. Background

From August 29th – August 30th a rally entitled ‘Bersih 4’ was held on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu and other locations globally.

The demands of the rally were for Prime Minister Najib Razak to step down and a transitional government to be formed. This government would need to implement 10 institutional reforms within the next 18 months to ensure the next General Election would be conducted in a clean, free and fair manner:

  1. Reform of electoral system and process
  2. Reform of the Election Commission (EC)
  3. Separation of Prime Minister and Finance Minister
  4. Parliamentary Reform
  5. Separation of the functions of Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecution
  6. Reform of the MACC
  7. Freedom of Information laws
  8. Asset declaration by Ministers and senior state officials
  9. Abolishment of/Amendment to draconian laws
  10. Establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC)

During the first day of the rally the race of the participants in Kuala Lumpur was raised as an issue by the media and by social media users. It was clear that the majority of the protesters were ethnically Chinese. The ethnic majority was also reported by Malaysiakini [1], Utusan Malaysia [2] and Berita Harian [3].

By our own estimates, 79,919 – 108,125 people attended the Kuala Lumpur rally over the 2-day period. Based on photographs seen during our crowd estimation, we would roughly estimate that 60% – 80% of the protesters were ethnically Chinese.

The race of the protesters became an issue due to media reports and Bersih 4 supporters and detractors highlighting the race of the protesters. This provoked a response by users on Twitter as they tweeted their own opinions on the rally.

2. Our Analysis

We performed opinion-based analysis on 500 users based in Peninsular Malaysia who tweeted about Bersih 4 (and related terms), race (e.g. ‘Melayu’, ‘Cina’, ‘Malay’, ‘Chinese’), racism and related terms from August 29th – September 2nd 2015. The margin of error is +/- 4.38%.

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.

Users who were only observing the number of Chinese present were not included in the sample. This was because we wanted to gauge their opinion on the Chinese majority and whether it was an issue to them.

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

One issue we encountered was a lack of users in East Malaysia tweeting about Bersih 4 and racial terms. Both sets of data were too limited to consider using for analysis. For this analysis we only focused on users in Peninsular Malaysia.

Our goal was to gauge the response by Twitter users in Peninsular Malaysia to the race of protesters at the Bersih 4 rally in Kuala Lumpur. Was the race of protesters really an issue, and if so, why?
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Written by politweet

October 8, 2015 at 10:47 am

Posted in Analyses

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