1. Background

On June 16th 2015 the Democratic Action Party (DAP) released a statement saying that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) ceases to exist following the Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) Muktamar’s motion to sever ties with DAP [1]. The DAP also pledged to work with PKR and any other parties to defeat Barisan Nasional (BN).

On June 17th 2015 Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) released a statement saying that Pakatan Rakyat no longer functions formally [2]. PKR also stated that they would work to build a coalition to defeat BN.

In the days that followed there was confusion on whether Pakatan Rakyat as a coalition was truly dead. This is illustrated by the following public statements by component party leaders:

  • June 18th: PAS Elections Director Datuk Mustafa Ali stated that PAS was not dead, only ‘fainted’ [3]
  • June 19th: PAS President Hadi Awang declared that PR was not dead [4]
  • June 20th: DAP Parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang responded by saying PR was dead [5]
  • June 20th: PKR Deputy Youth Chief insists that PR is not dead [6]

Currently the Opposition-held state governments of Kelantan, Selangor and Penang appear to be continuing as state-level coalition governments. Whether the coalitions will continue to use ‘Pakatan Rakyat’ to refer to themselves is unclear.

2. Our Analysis

We performed opinion-based analysis on 475 users based in Malaysia who tweeted about Pakatan Rakyat, its component parties and related terms from June 16th – June 20th 2015. The margin of error is +/- 4.5%.

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

Spammers, news agencies and accounts with automated tweets were not included in the sample.
From this dataset we analysed the individual Twitter user timelines to determine their opinion. This took their tweets, retweets and conversations into account.

Our goal was to gauge public reaction by Twitter users in Malaysia to the breakup of Pakatan Rakyat.

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

  1. Positive
  2. Neutral
  3. Negative

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

  1. Positive – Support DAP
  2. Positive – Support PAS
  3. Positive (general)
  4. Neutral
  5. Negative – Critical of DAP
  6. Negative – Critical of PAS
  7. Negative (general)

The results are shown in the following charts.




Category Users (%)
Positive 75 15.79
Neutral 105 22.11
Negative 295 62.11

Individual Category Breakdown



Category Users (%)
Positive – Support DAP 7 1.47
Positive – Support PAS 30 6.32
Positive (general) 38 8.00
Neutral 105 22.11
Negative – Critical of DAP 62 13.05
Negative – Critical of PAS 26 5.47
Negative (general) 207 43.58


3. Findings

What follows are the findings for each category.

3.1 Positive (general)

38 users (8.00%)

These users viewed PR’s breakup positively for various reasons. Among the more popular reasons to support the breakup were:

  • A new opposition will be stronger, maybe incorporate other parties
  • Never believed opposition parties were compatible with each other
  • Did not support PR as a coalition
  • PR without PAS can perform better in Sarawak
  • PR without DAP would be more capable of protecting Malay/Muslim interests
  • PASMA can replace PAS within PR

3.2 Positive – Support DAP

7 users (1.47%)

These users supported the breakup because they supported DAP or they were against hudud. A minority expressed hope that the DAP can work with PASMA or change to become more multi-racial.

3.3 Positive – Support PAS

30 users (6.32%)

These users supported the breakup because they supported PAS. They tended to express more interest in PAS continuing their cause alone, or if they had to be in a coalition then PKR+PAS would be the better choice.

The most common reasons for supporting the breakup by this group were:

  • Easier to push for hudud without having to please non-Muslim partners
  • Better for PAS to be on their own rather than sacrifice their principles
  • Support Malay Muslim unity
  • Support for PAS to work with UMNO to push for Islamist causes such as implementing hudud (minority of users expressed this)

3.4 Neutral

105 users (22.11%)

These users did not express a clear positive/negative sentiment; or expressed indifference. Most were expressing condolences or surprise at the news of Pakatan’s breakup.

3.5 Negative (general)

207 users (43.58%)

These users responded to the news of PR’s breakup with negative sentiment ranging from disappointment to outrage. Users tended to blame PR itself more than DAP or PAS, implying that all 3 component parties were held responsible for the breakup.

Among the more common negative responses were:

  • Feeling disappointed that PR could not work together
  • Feeling angry/unhappy with the drama surrounding the breakup, and PR in general
  • PR leaders’ inconsistent stand on whether Pakatan was alive or dead made the situation worse
  • Lost hope with PR
  • Considered PR’s breakup poorly timed as BN support is at a low point
  • Starting to believe that BN was right all along about PR’s instability
  • Still anti-BN, but no hope in PR now

3.6 Negative – Critical of DAP

62 users (13.05%)

These users viewed PR’s breakup negatively (for the same reasons as the general category) and expressed negative sentiment towards DAP. Among the more popular opinions expressed were:

  • They were not happy with DAP’s arrogant behaviour. This was the most common reason. Examples given were:
    • pushing PR to break up
    • unilaterally deciding PR is no more
    • hard for DAP to point fingers at PAS because PAS never let go of their cause to implement hudud
  • Don’t believe DAP would protect Malay interests
  • Would not support DAP in future coalition

3.7 Negative – Critical of PAS

26 users (5.47%)

These users viewed PR’s breakup negatively (for the same reasons as the general category) and expressed negative sentiment towards PAS.

Among the more popular opinions expressed were:

  • Believed that PAS was overconfident and should not have pushed their hudud agenda
  • Believed that PAS is too focused on Malays and Islam
  • Would not support PAS in future coalition

4. Additional Opinions

Users tweeting about Pakatan Rakyat also expressed the following opinions/sentiment on related topics. This listing was summarised based on a manual reading of a sample of 1,860 users in Malaysia, inclusive of the sample used for the above analysis.

These expressions are not indicative of their views on PR’s breakup, but we are including it here for informative reasons:

  1. Frequent remarks on how Pakatan Rakyat does not involve the rakyat in their decisions and should not use the term ‘rakyat’
  2. Frequent remarks on how things would be different if Anwar Ibrahim was not in jail and Nik Aziz and Karpal Singh were still alive
  3. Different views on whether DAP left PR or PAS was removed from PR
  4. Confusion and jokes about whether Pakatan was alive or dead
  5. Frequent remarks of feeling unhappy with BN and PR at this point in time
  6. Hope in future for a 3rd force

5. About the Population Sample

The results reflect a young demographic, by our estimates to be between 18 – 30 years old. Users were predominantly Bahasa Malaysia speakers:

  • 76% Bahasa Malaysia speakers
  • 19% English speakers
  • 5% Bilingual speakers


6. Scale of Importance on Twitter

6.1 The scale of conversation

This network graph shows how Twitter users tweeting about Pakatan Rakyat and component parties from June 16th – June 20th were connected. This includes all users on Twitter limited to those who retweeted or had conversations with each other. This helps visualise the scale of the conversation.


Each user is represented by a node (circle) that is coloured based on the number of their tweets that were retweeted and the number of tweets sent to them. The more attention they receive, the larger the node. Any node that retweets another node or tweets to another node is connected.

Nodes are positioned based on their connections to other nodes – strong connections pull them closer. Large nodes are considered influential within the network. We have coloured the nodes based on a scale of blue (least influential) to green; yellow; orange; red; and purple (most influential).

Due to the scale of the graph, we can only show names from the top 198 most influential users as seen below:

There are 7,316 users with 11,348 connections within the unfiltered graph. The most popular users were:

  1. @harithiskander
  2. @501awani
  3. @1obefiend
  4. @hafizrayyan
  5. @malaysiakini
  6. @jack_vladamir
  7. @mkini_bm
  8. @asrulmm
  9. @anasshafiee
  10. @limkitsiang
  11. @ronasina
  12. @imokman
  13. @tm_insider
  14. @staronline
  15. @dapmalaysia
  16. @adrianlimcheeen
  17. @hermyrahim
  18. @the_mamu
  19. @gengbebel
  20. @soloridejer
  21. @duurianne
  22. @bernamadotcom
  23. @rafiziramli
  24. @khairilanuar
  25. @zurairi

6.2 Historical trend

Interest in Pakatan Rakyat spiked on June 16th 2015 following the announcement of their breakup by DAP. However there has been a decline in interest in the days that followed. The graph below shows the hourly mentions of Pakatan Rakyat (not including parties) from June 16th – 20th on Twitter:


Historically June 16th was Pakatan’s most-mentioned day since January 2014, as seen in this graph of mentions of Pakatan Rakyat (not including parties) per-day from January 2014 – June 2015:


7. Conclusion

The analysis indicates that the majority of Twitter users in Malaysia who expressed their opinions viewed Pakatan Rakyat’s breakup negatively. All 3 component parties were held responsible for PR’s demise.

PR’s function was seen to oppose BN, and their breakup caused some users to lose hope. Many users expressing negative sentiment felt there is no future with PR or BN.

As a result of this breakup we may see an increase in political apathy if measures aren’t taken by PKR, PAS and DAP to win back support from the public.

When it comes to individual parties, DAP appears to be less well-received compared to PAS. This is because:

  • Among the users who supported the breakup, more users openly supported PAS compared to those who openly supported DAP.
  • Among the users who expressed negative remarks, more users were critical of DAP compared to users who were critical of PAS.

There was a noticeable lack of statements of support or criticism for PKR, or mention of PKR beyond news reports. Most mentions of PKR took the form of an expression of hope they would form/avoid a coalition with PAS or DAP.

Based on remarks by supporters and critics, there is a clear divide between DAP supporters and PAS supporters. PAS supporters however seemed content for PAS to stand alone. If PKR were to choose one party over another it could mean sacrificing support.

Moving forward we may have to change references to Pakatan Rakyat in our statistics to ‘Opposition Coalition’; ‘Federal Opposition’; ‘DAP-led coalition government’; or ‘PKR-led coalition government’ depending on the context.

8. Popular Content

The following tweets are among the most popularly shared tweets / images on this topic.

9. 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 = Positive; Red markers = Negative; Yellow markers = Neutral

9.1 West Malaysia


9.2 East Malaysia

10. References

[1] (2015, June 16) Pakatan Rakyat ceases to exist. DAP Malaysia. Retrieved from http://dapmalaysia.org/Kenyataan-Akhbar/2015/06/16/21138/#[2] (2015, June 17) Press statement. Parti Keadilan Rakyat. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/keadilanrakyat/posts/923769450999091[3] (2015, June 18) Pakatan belum mati, hanya ‘pengsan’, kata pemimpin PAS. The Malaysian Insider. Retrieved from http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/bahasa/article/pakatan-belum-mati-hanya-pengsan-kata-pemimpin-pas#sthash.tN5rGym4.dpbs[4] David, A. (2015, June 19) DAP has no right to declare that Pakatan Rakyat is dead, says Hadi Awang. New Straits Times Online. Retrieved from http://www.nst.com.my/node/88964[5] (2015, June 20) Why say Pakatan not dead when you destroyed pact, Kit Siang asks Hadi. The Malaysian Insider. Retrieved from http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/why-say-pakatan-not-dead-when-you-destroyed-pact-kit-siang-asks-hadi[6] Shukry, A. (2015, June 20) PKR Youth insists Pakatan still exists. The Malaysian Insider. Retrieved from http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/pkr-youth-insists-pakatan-still-exists

Published On: June 29th, 2015 / Categories: Analyses, Social Media / Tags: , , , , , , /