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Analysis of Support for the TPPA by Twitter Users in Malaysia

1. Background

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA/TPP) is a free trade agreement between 12 countries with a combined market of 800 million people and combined GDP of USD 27.5 trillion [1]. TPPA negotiations began in March 2010 with Malaysia becoming the 9th member in October 2010. The countries involved in the agreement are:

  • Australia
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Malaysia
  • Japan
  • Peru
  • United States
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • Vietnam

In Malaysia 2 anti-TPPA protest rallies (called #BantahTPPA) were held on January 23rd 2016 [2]:

  • A PAS-led protest held at Padang Merbok (KL) and estimated to have 4,000 protesters
  • A protest composed of student activists, civil society leaders, Opposition party leaders and supporters along Jalan Parlimen near Dataran Merdeka. The crowd was estimated to contain 500 protesters.

After a 2-day debate in Parliament the TPPA was approved on January 27th. The TPPA was signed in Auckland, New Zealand on February 4th [3].

 

2. Our Analysis

We performed opinion-based analysis on 600 users based in Malaysia who tweeted about the TPPA and related terms from January 18th – February 8th 2016. The margin of error is +/- 4%.

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

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

From this dataset we analysed the individual Twitter user timelines to determine their opinion. This took their tweets, retweets and conversations into account. Only users who had an opinion about the TPPA were used in the sample.

Our goal was to gauge public support by Twitter users in Malaysia for the TPPA. As this was a complex trade agreement our expectation was that the result would be heavily weighted towards not supporting the TPPA.

This is because the average person would find the document difficult to comprehend and relate to their own interests. It would be easier to dismiss it and not comment on it. Conversations about the TPPA would therefore likely be driven by politically partisan people and users looking for simple answers. Given the level of distrust of government sources of information, it is possible for such users to be manipulated.

Therefore the percentage of users opposing the TPPA has less value than the details. Identifying the most popular reasons for opposing the TPPA would prove insightful.

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

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

Users who did not support the TPPA expressed a variety of reasons. Based on samples of the data we determined the most frequently mentioned reasons. The popular reasons for opposing the TPPA were then grouped into the following categories:

  1. Fear of Colonisation & Loss of Sovereign Rights
  2. Exaggerated Fears / Propaganda
  3. Competition & Foreign Labour
  4. Distrust of Government / BN
  5. Increases in Price of Medicine
  6. Economic Burden Similar to GST
  7. Islamic Reasons

The results are shown in the following charts.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by politweet

April 10, 2016 at 12:17 pm