1. Background

On March 17th 2016, Shabudin Yahaya (BN MP for Tasek Gelugor) alleged that the Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng was involved in the sale of two plots of land in Taman Manggis, Penang to a company whose owner was connected to the owner of a bungalow purchased by Lim Guan Eng. The purchase of the bungalow was alleged to have been below the market-price [1].

Comparisons were made between these allegations and former Menteri Besar of Selangor, Khir Toyo’s case where he was convicted for abusing his power to acquire land and property below the market-price.

Following these allegations, a series of exposes and more allegations surfaced online. MACC conducted investigations and on June 29th Lim Guan Eng was arrested and held overnight.  On June 30th he was charged with corruption in the Penang High Court. His former land-lady, Phang Li Koon was also charged for her involvement.

The charges faced by Lim Guan Eng are described below:

“Lim is facing two charges for corruption – one under Section 165 of the Penal Code and another Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Act (MACC) 2009 — over his approval of an application from Magnificent Emblem to convert a piece of land from agricultural to residential use, as well as over his purchase of a house from the firm’s director, Phang, for RM2.8 million, which was below the property’s market value of RM4.27 million.” [2]

Since the story broke in March we tracked mentions of Lim Guan Eng, Taman Manggis, Khir Toyo and other related terms to gauge the response to the initial story and on-going exposes.

2. Initial Analysis (March 17th – April 30th)

We initially examined tweets by 10,627 users from March 17th – April 30th 2016 mentioning the keywords related to allegations against Lim Guan Eng.

What we found was the topic was popular mainly with users with a strong partisan interest in Malaysian politics. This issue did not draw enough interest from the general public – it was not worth talking about, and those who did tended to express disinterest or only retweet news articles.

The topic also drew more interest from users based in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Penang. 59% of users tweeting about the topic (not including retweets) were based in these 3 states. The highest drop in interest was from users in Johor, which made up 8.63% of the local population (1.96 points lower than the proportional average).

There was also a high degree of spammed tweets, with spammed tweets outnumbering non-spammed tweets on some days. This can be seen in the chart below:


1,358 users spammed 49,223 tweets. In other words, 12.8% of the users spammed 41.8% of the total tweets.

From a manual reading of non-spammed tweets during this period, we found that tweeted opinions about the scandal fell mainly into the following categories:

  • Users not interested in Lim Guan Eng’s scandal
  • Users complaining about excessive media coverage. Most complaints implied users were bored or not interested in listening to the repeated allegations.
  • Users wanting Lim Guan Eng to be investigated
  • Users comparing Lim Guan Eng’s case with Khir Toyo’s case
  • Users criticising Lim Guan Eng’s responses to the allegations
  • Users critical of BN and DAP, equating both to be corrupt
  • Users defending Lim Guan Eng. Among the more popular reasons were:
    • BN / UMNO / PM Najib are considered to be worse
    • The discount isn’t that big / there is nothing wrong with a good deal
    • The 1MDB scandal is much bigger and more important than Lim Guan Eng’s scandal
    • Khir Toyo’s house is bigger

Users defending Lim Guan Eng were a small minority. There was little evidence of pro-DAP or pro-Opposition users being mobilised to defend Lim Guan Eng.

Out of 44 DAP politicians actively tweeting in this period, only 27 politicians tweeted/retweeted tweets mentioning Lim Guan Eng or keywords related to the allegations. This does not include images or tweets not mentioning related keywords. By not talking about the allegations the 17 politicians missed an opportunity to contribute to Lim Guan Eng’s defence on Twitter.

Because of the low level of interest from the general public and the high degree of spam, we could not do a detailed opinion analysis at the time.

3. Analysis of Opinions on Lim Guan Eng’s Corruption Charges (June 29th – July 6th)

We examined tweets by 8,365 users from June 29th – July 6th 2016 mentioning keywords related to allegations against Lim Guan Eng. The daily interest is shown in the graph below.


We then performed opinion-based analysis on 520 users based in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Penang. The margin of error is +/- 4.3%.

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. ‘Local interest’ was measured by filtering global tweets against our database of profiled users based in Malaysia.

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, conversations and political interests into account. Only users who had an opinion about Lim Guan Eng and his corruption scandal were used in the sample.

Our initial goal was to gauge public opinion by Twitter users in Malaysia in relation to Lim Guan Eng’s corruption charges. However the topic drew interest mainly from users in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Penang.

The table below shows the percentage distribution of users by state tweeting about Lim Guan Eng during this period, compared to the normal proportional distribution (target) of the user population. Large differences indicate an imbalanced distribution.

State Target % Actual % Difference
MY/JHR 10.59 8.29 -2.30
MY/KDH 4.58 4.89 0.30
MY/KTN 2.72 2.51 -0.21
MY/KUL 17.25 18.79 1.54
MY/LBN 0.23 0.22 -0.02
MY/MLK 4.25 4.32 0.07
MY/NSN 3.55 3.89 0.34
MY/PHG 4.65 4.18 -0.46
MY/PJY 1.08 1.70 0.62
MY/PLS 1.02 1.51 0.50
MY/PNG 4.65 8.61 3.96
MY/PRK 5.27 6.83 1.56
MY/SBH 3.22 2.00 -1.22
MY/SGR 29.76 35.84 6.08
MY/SWK 3.45 2.65 -0.81
MY/TRG 3.74 2.97 -0.77


The level of interest from Johor was noticeably lower by 2.30 points, while interest from Penang was higher by 3.96 points. Interest from users in Penang was 85% higher than normal. Interest from Selangor was 6.08 points higher as well. In the previous period interest from Johor was lower by 1.96 points, so the drop is larger in this period.

Our initial analysis for March – April 2016 had indicated that Lim Guan Eng’s scandal was not a strong topic of interest for the general public. In this period the general public showed greater interest but not on a national scale.

For this period 63.24% of local interest was concentrated in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Penang. If we don’t include retweets, 71.5% of local interest was concentrated in these 3 states. This is an increase of 12.5 percentage points since the last period (59%). The topic is moving further towards becoming a local issue for the 3 states instead of a national issue. This is a bad sign for users who support Lim Guan Eng.

This uneven distribution means the corruption scandal was not a national topic of conversation on Twitter. It was not important enough to trigger a large response. On a global scale only 8,365 users had tweeted about the topic. As such we could only perform analysis of opinions from users in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Penang.

4. About the Population Sample

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

  • 42% Bahasa Malaysia speakers
  • 35% English speakers
  • 23% Mixed/other language speakers


The chart below shows the gender distribution of the population sample. One user could not be identified.


The high percentage of male interest is not that unusual as male users typically show more interest in politics. DAP also tends to draws more interest from men on Facebook. The percentage of male interest in each party’s fan-base from potential voters in Malaysia is shown in the graph below:


From July 2015 – June 2016 DAP’s average monthly fan-base is 70% male. The percentage of male users started to decline in May and June due to a drop in interest in DAP from male users, from 3.2 million in April 2016 to 2.4 million in June 2016.


On Facebook, media with a focus on politics also has a strong male audience. The table below shows the number of Facebook users interested in popular English and Bahasa Malaysia media in March 2016:

Media Audience (users) Male (%)
Berita Harian 3,300,000 51.52
Sinar Harian 2,300,000 56.52
Utusan Malaysia 2,200,000 45.45
Harian Metro 3,300,000 42.42
Kosmo 670,000 58.21
The Star 920,000 54.35
New Straits Times 360,000 58.33
*Malaysiakini (Bahasa Malaysia) 990,000 62.63
*Malaysiakini (English) 2,500,000 72.00
*The Malaysian Insider 880,000 67.05
*Free Malaysia Today 280,000 67.86

(* = media with a focus on politics)


The chart below shows the ethnic distribution of the population sample. The majority of users in this sample were Malay.


Note on ethnic categories:

  • Malay includes Muslim Bumiputera
  • Other Ethnicity refers to identifiable ethnic groups that are not Malay, Chinese, Indian or Muslim Bumiputera
  • Unknown refers to users whose race could not be identified

The proportion of users by ethnicity and gender is shown below:

Ethnic Group Male (%) Female (%)
Malay 79 21
Chinese 75 25
Indian 78 22
Other Ethnicity 100 0


5. Findings

Based on this analysis we categorised users as belonging to one of the following categories, based on their responses to Lim Guan Eng’s corruption charges:

  1. Support the Charges
  2. Neutral
  3. Oppose the Charges

The results are shown in the following chart.



Category Users (%)
Support the Charges 114 21.92
Neutral 230 44.23
Oppose the Charges 176 33.85


The explanation for each category is listed below.

5.1 Support the Charges

114 users (21.92%)

These users supported Lim Guan Eng being charged with corruption. The majority expressed approval, which implied they were convinced he deserved to be charged. This includes users who supported Lim Guan Eng but were convinced that the charges had merit.

Also expressed were opinions stating that politicians should be charged if evidence of corruption has been found – there should be no biased thinking where Opposition politicians are always considered innocent victims of persecution.


5.2 Neutral

230 users (44.23%)

These users were talking about the issue but did not express support or opposition to Lim Guan Eng being charged with corruption. Some users explicitly claimed to be neutral.

Users in this category were not motivated enough to express a stand for or against the issue. Generally speaking these users accepted the charges and were waiting for the judicial process to run its course. This is in contrast to the previous category where those users openly supported Lim Guan Eng being charged with corruption.


5.3 Oppose the Charges

176 users (33.85%)

These users did not support Lim Guan Eng being charged with corruption. The most common reasons expressed were:

  • They believed Lim Guan Eng was innocent
  • They were strong supporters of Lim Guan Eng
  • They considered the charges to be a form of selective prosecution (‘double standards’). Even users who personally did not like or support Lim Guan Eng chose to oppose the charges because they saw it as politically-motivated.
  • They believed he was corrupt but opposed the selective prosecution. For a minority of users ‘small’ corruption was acceptable because allegedly more corrupt people can escape justice.
  • They did not understand the nature of the charges. This was a common problem where users wrongly believed Lim Guan Eng was being charged for buying a house below the market price. These users were unaware or chose to ignore the alleged business link between the seller (Phang Li Koon) and the buyer (Lim Guan Eng). There were also users spreading propaganda that reinforced this misunderstanding.


6. Analysis by Ethnicity and Gender

The chart below shows the user opinion based on the proportion of each gender group.


Key observations:

  1. A higher percentage of men support the charges (24%) compared to women (15%)
  2. A higher percentage of women oppose the charges (43%) compared to men (31%)

The chart below shows the user opinion based on the proportion of each ethnic group.


Key observations:

  1. Chinese users (76%) and Indian users (49%) showed strong opposition to Lim Guan Eng being charged
  2. A similar percentage of Malay users (26%) and Indian users (27%) supported the charges
  3. Malay users had the highest proportion of users with a neutral position. They were the least motivated to express a position supporting or opposing the charges.

The chart below shows the user opinion based on the proportion of each ethnic group by gender.


Key observations:

  1. A higher percentage of Malay women took a neutral position (58%) compared to Malay men (53%)
  2. A higher percentage of Malay women opposed the charges (22%) compared to Malay men (20%)
  3. Malay men (27%) and Indian men (32%) showed the strongest support for Lim Guan Eng being charged
  4. Chinese women showed stronger opposition to the charges (96%) compared to Chinese men (69%). The gap was even greater for Indian women opposing the charges (82%) compared to Indian men (39%).


7. Separate Analysis

Two additional issues were prominent in relation to Lim Guan Eng’s charges:

  • The issue of double standards
  • The issue of Lim Guan Eng going on leave or stepping down as Chief Minister

We examined user opinions on both these issues, drawing from the same sample of 520 users.

7.1 Double Standards

The issue of double standards surfaced in people’s opinions because of their perception of selective prosecution. They believed politicians (mainly from Barisan Nasional) and civil servants linked to alleged crimes are not charged while Opposition politicians are ‘targeted’ or quick to be charged.

163 users (31.35% of the population) complained about double standards. The breakdown of their opinion on the charges is shown in the table below:

Category Users (%)
Support the Charges 16 9.82
Neutral 66 40.49
Oppose the Charges 81 49.69


Not everyone who complained about double standards was critical of Lim Guan Eng being charged. Users in the ‘Support the Charges’ and ‘Neutral categories were not defending Lim Guan Eng. Instead they wanted more politicians and civil servants to be charged with corruption.

The chart below shows the ethnic distribution of users complaining about double standards.


The chart below shows the user opinion based on the proportion of each ethnic group, for the 163 users complaining about double standards:


65% of Malay users who complained about double standards either supported the charges or remained neutral. Their problem with double standards did not cause them to oppose Lim Guan Eng being charged with corruption. 10% of them were supportive of the charges.

The majority of Chinese and Indian users opposed the charges. No Chinese users who complained about double standards supported the charges.

If we combine all users who oppose the charges and those who complained about double standards, the total is 258 users (49.62% of the population). The perception of double standards was an important issue.

7.2 The Issue of Lim Guan Eng Stepping Down

The question of whether Lim Guan Eng should go on leave or resign as Chief Minister drew a limited response from the population. 147 users (28.27% of the population) expressed an opinion, as shown in the table below:

Category Users (%)
Step Down 97 18.65
No Opinion 373 71.73
Stay On 50 9.62


Users who opposed the charges tended not to express any opinion on whether he should go on leave. There was also a lack of influential users campaigning for him to stay on. These factors explain why only 9.62% of the population expressed interest for him to stay on.

The most common reasons for wanting Lim Guan Eng to stay on were:

  • Prime Minister Najib Razak should step down first
  • Charges against Lim Guan Eng have been unproven (in court)
  • Lim Guan Eng does not have influence over the police, MACC or the courts
  • Lim Guan Eng should stay on as a way of protesting double standards

For users who wanted him to step down, opinions on whether they preferred Lim Guan Eng to resign or go on leave were mixed. The most common reasons for wanting him to step down were:

  • He may influence witnesses (e.g. state government employees)
  • In the past DAP has called for BN leaders to go on leave based on allegations, so they should practice what they preach. Many users pointed out that Lim Guan Eng has been charged, which is a more serious than allegations
  • By stepping down Lim Guan Eng and DAP would be showing they have integrity

The chart below shows the ethnic distribution of the 147 users with an opinion on Lim Guan Eng’s position as CM.


The chart below shows the distribution of opinion by ethnic group for the total population.


Key observations:

  1. Indians were more motivated to express an opinion with 47% split between wanting Lim Guan Eng to step down or stay on.
  2. A higher percentage of Chinese and Indians were motivated to express support for Lim Guan Eng compared to only 5% of Malays
  3. A higher percentage of Malays wanted Lim Guan Eng to step down or go on leave compared to Chinese


8. Other observations

Users tweeting about the charges against Lim Guan Eng also expressed other opinions on related topics. This listing was summarised based on a manual reading of a sample of 1,239 users in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Penang, inclusive of the sample used for the above analysis.

8.1 Disappointment in the Opposition

Many users expressed disappointment in the Opposition, primarily DAP. Other parties such as PKR and PAS were not specifically singled out for criticism. The main reasons for expressing disappointment were:

  • The Opposition/DAP is just as corrupt as BN. Both sides are perceived as bad choices.
  • DAP showed they do not practice what they preach when Lim Guan Eng refused to step down or go on leave
  • Inconsistent stand where PM Najib Razak is guilty until proven innocent whereas Lim Guan Eng is innocent until proven guilty


8.2 Support for Lim Guan Eng

One pattern that emerged during analysis was that users who supported Lim Guan Eng (as a DAP leader or Chief Minister) were not necessarily opposing the charges. Most of Lim Guan Eng’s supporters opposed the charges, but there were also supporters who wanted him charged and supporters with a neutral position.

Supporters who wanted him charged placed greater importance on the Opposition/DAP being corruption-free and wanted him to prove his innocence in court. There were also supporters who believed Lim Guan Eng ‘made a mistake’ and deserved to get caught.

This divide was also seen in opinions by Lim Guan Eng’s critics and detractors. Most of them supported the charges but there were critics who opposed the charges because they considered it to be political persecution. There were also critics with a neutral position.

The implication of this is that a person’s support for Lim Guan Eng is not the only deciding factor on whether they support him being charged with corruption.


9. Scale of Importance on Twitter

9.1 The scale of conversation

This network graph shows how Twitter users tweeting keywords related to allegations against Lim Guan Eng and related terms from June 29th – July 6th were connected. This includes all users on Twitter limited to those who re-tweeted or had conversations with each other. This helps visualise the global 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. The nodes are coloured 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 761 most influential users as seen below:


There are 6,679 users with 12,872 connections within the unfiltered graph. The most popular users were:

  1. cmlimguaneng
  2. 501awani
  3. malaysiakini
  4. melgohcna
  5. limkitsiang
  6. rafiziramli
  7. yinshaoloong
  8. roketkini
  9. themmailonline
  10. dapmalaysia
  11. abdmalekhussin
  12. asamadsaid
  13. erk888
  14. zunarkartunis
  15. bernamadotcom
  16. tankengliang
  17. geng_bebel
  18. zaidibrahim
  19. daptaiping
  20. bharianmy
  21. susanloone
  22. mkini_bm
  23. nst_online
  24. apekbuta
  25. azminali
  26. hannahyeoh
  27. putrareformasi
  28. syedsaddiq
  29. ngsueelim
  30. tianchua
  31. hafizgw18
  32. mozas_my29
  33. fmtoday
  34. staronline
  35. dyanasmd
  36. melayubuntu
  37. channelnewsasia
  38. art_harun
  39. alamurni
  40. h4rd88p
  41. sumishacna
  42. chan_amie
  43. challenger_my
  44. media_selangor
  45. shahnonsalleh
  46. syazwannrahimy
  47. asyrafawani
  48. official_badmf
  49. 1obefiend
  50. rajapetra
  51. oiwoods
  52. clkho87
  53. wongchenpkr
  54. boosoonyew67
  55. izwarwahid
  56. sprmmalaysia
  57. napiez
  58. captrahmat
  59. anselmolothario
  60. rameshraoaks
  61. papagomo
  62. wongkahwoh
  63. stcom
  64. msiachronicle
  65. kasthuripatto
  66. mpklang
  67. sinaronline
  68. mandeepkarpall
  69. ayathelme
  70. munisjothee2
  71. megatppanjialam
  72. amanah_pan
  73. daprocket
  74. zakwangt86
  75. cynthia_gabriel
  76. versedanggerik
  77. mfaizk13
  78. drnovandri
  79. brozam
  80. justintwj
  81. hafeezyunus
  82. nsurendrann
  83. leekhailoon
  84. jsadiq
  85. sicfallacy
  86. philipgolingai
  87. pisaukarat
  88. agendadaily
  89. malaysia_latest
  90. untrade1
  91. urangsabah
  92. afifbahardin
  93. gobindsinghdeo
  94. dap_leaks
  95. alongdesa
  96. scheekeong
  97. arul_dapns
  98. rohelan
  99. hmutara
  100. the_mamu


10. Interest on Facebook

Using Facebook we can measure how popular political parties and politicians are in each state, as a percentage of potential voters (users above 21 years old). Interest is calculated based on likes, shares and the content of status updates. The chart below shows the level of interest in political parties and Lim Guan Eng by state. Putrajaya is not shown due to the small number of users.



State Code Population (FB users) DAP (%) UMNO (%) PKR (%) PAS (%) Lim Guan Eng (%)
MY/JHR 1,600,000 31.25 49.38 13.13 11.88 4.38
MY/KDH 550,000 34.55 63.64 18.18 21.82 5.09
MY/KTN 370,000 37.84 72.97 20.54 35.14 2.27
MY/KUL 4,700,000 17.87 34.04 8.72 9.57 2.55
MY/LBN 280,000 50.00 50.00 12.86 12.14 3.93
MY/MLK 390,000 33.33 53.85 14.36 16.67 4.87
MY/NSN 350,000 28.57 54.29 14.29 16.57 4.00
MY/PHG 440,000 31.82 61.36 16.59 21.59 3.64
MY/PLS 68,000 38.24 67.65 20.59 25.00 3.53
MY/PNG 830,000 28.92 40.96 19.28 12.05 13.25
MY/PRK 740,000 29.73 50.00 17.57 17.57 4.73
MY/SBH 750,000 33.33 56.00 11.73 11.20 2.93
MY/SGR 3,000,000 25.33 46.67 15.33 15.67 4.33
MY/SWK 720,000 59.72 41.67 13.89 12.22 8.47
MY/TRG 390,000 38.46 71.79 21.03 30.77 2.49
TOTAL 15,178,000 28.04 45.96 13.47 14.17 4.33


Key observations:

  1. UMNO and DAP are the top 2 parties on Facebook in every state
  2. There is more interest in UMNO than DAP in every state except Labuan (where they are tied at 50%) and Sarawak (where DAP leads UMNO)
  3. There is more interest in PAS than PKR in every state except Johor, Labuan, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak. They are tied in Perak at 17.57% of the state’s users.
  4. There are more users interested in Lim Guan Eng in Penang compared to PAS
  5. Higher interest in DAP and Lim Guan Eng in Sarawak is possibly due to the after-effect of the recent Sarawak state election

The table below shows how Lim Guan Eng compares to other current and former party leaders.

State Code Population (FB users) Najib Razak (%) Anwar Ibrahim (%) Lim Guan Eng (%) Hadi Awang (%) Mahathir Mohamad (%) Muhyiddin Yassin (%)
MY/JHR 1,600,000 30.00 11.25 4.38 2.25 19.38 6.25
MY/KDH 550,000 34.55 15.45 5.09 5.09 25.45 6.91
MY/KTN 370,000 37.84 15.68 2.27 6.22 22.16 6.22
MY/KUL 4,700,000 19.15 8.09 2.55 1.74 12.34 3.19
MY/LBN 280,000 42.86 11.79 3.93 1.39 21.07 4.64
MY/MLK 390,000 33.33 13.59 4.87 3.08 21.79 5.90
MY/NSN 350,000 34.29 13.43 4.00 3.43 22.29 5.43
MY/PHG 440,000 36.36 13.86 3.64 4.77 22.27 5.23
MY/PLS 68,000 38.24 14.71 3.53 4.71 26.47 7.35
MY/PNG 830,000 24.10 13.25 13.25 3.01 15.66 3.86
MY/PRK 740,000 31.08 12.97 4.73 3.78 18.92 4.59
MY/SBH 750,000 53.33 13.33 2.93 1.47 22.67 5.60
MY/SGR 3,000,000 33.00 14.33 4.33 3.30 22.00 5.33
MY/SWK 720,000 38.89 10.97 8.47 1.53 19.44 4.31
MY/TRG 390,000 38.46 15.90 2.49 9.49 24.87 5.64
TOTAL 15,178,000 29.75 11.75 4.33 2.85 18.36 4.71


The chart below shows how Lim Guan Eng compares with the top 3 leaders – PM Najib Razak, Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim (Ketua Umum PKR) and Tun Mahathir Mohamad (former Prime Minister):


Lim Guan Eng is less popular than every politician in every state with one exception – he is tied with Anwar Ibrahim in Penang at 13.25% of the state’s users. PM Najib is the most popular politician, followed by Tun Mahathir.

The chart below shows how Lim Guan Eng compares to Hadi Awang (PAS President) and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (former UMNO Deputy President and former Deputy Prime Minister). Please note the smaller scale on the y-axis:


Key observations:

  1. Muhyiddin Yassin is more popular than Lim Guan Eng in every state except Penang, Perak and Sarawak
  2. Hadi Awang is more popular than Lim Guan Eng in Kelantan, Pahang, Perlis and Terengganu. They are tied in Kedah at 5.09% of the state’s users.
  3. Muhyiddin Yassin has a higher average interest level of 5.36% compared to Lim Guan Eng’s average of 4.70%.
  4. Compared to the other 2 politicians, Lim Guan Eng’s strong areas are Penang, Perak and Sarawak.

The most recent trend in partisanship on Facebook shows that exclusive interest in the Opposition has hit a new low of 8.79% of potential voters in Malaysia:


The most recent drop in interest in the Opposition can be attributed to a drop in interest in DAP. There was a drop in interest from 4.6 million users to 4.2 million users. This is shown in the graph on the following page.


The current total users for each party are listed below. Please note that these totals are for potential voters only. Male and female totals do not add up to the main total because these numbers are rounded estimates provided by Facebook.

Party Total Male Female
DAP 4,200,000 2,400,000 1,800,000
PKR 2,000,000 1,300,000 720,000
PAS 2,200,000 1,300,000 850,000
UMNO 7,000,000 3,700,000 3,200,000
GERAKAN 780,000 510,000 270,000
MCA 2,500,000 1,400,000 1,100,000
MIC 130,000 93,000 39,000


The recent drop in interest in DAP was mainly from male users, as shown below:


Interest in DAP from male users dropped from 3.2 million in April 2016 to 2.4 million in June 2016. This drop was offset by an increase in interest from female users from 1.2 million in April 2016 to 1.8 million in June 2016.

The drop in interest in DAP is significant because it took place during and after the Sarawak state election.

11. Comparison with Anwar Ibrahim

When Anwar Ibrahim was convicted for sodomy on February 10th 2015, 33,907 users tweeted about the conviction.

From February 9th – 16th 2015, a total of 54,698 users tweeted about the conviction and protest campaigns globally. Interest in Anwar Ibrahim was fairly balanced within a +/- 2% margin. It was a national issue on Twitter.

For comparison, when Lim Guan Eng was charged in court only 4,325 users tweeted about it. From June 29th – July 6th only 8,365 users tweeted about Lim Guan Eng, his corruption charges and protest campaigns. Interest was also heavily weighted to Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Penang with 63.24% of users tweeting from these states.

The scale of difference can be seen in the graph below, where ‘Day 1’ refers to Feb 10th 2015 for Anwar Ibrahim and Jun 30th 2016 for Lim Guan Eng.


Comparing the response to a conviction is not the same as the response to being charged in court, but the gap is significant. Both Twitter and Facebook statistics indicate that Lim Guan Eng is much less popular than Anwar Ibrahim.

12. Conclusion


Allegations of Lim Guan Eng being corrupt in March, followed by him being charged with corruption failed to generate much interest on Twitter on a national level. To make matters worse for his supporters the issue is moving further towards becoming a local issue for users in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Penang.

Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Penang are states where support for the Opposition was strong in GE13. However based on the Twitter users examined, support for Lim Guan Eng is divided with 34% opposing the decision to charge him with corruption and 22% supporting the decision to charge him.

Low support from Malay youth

The ethnic divide in this analysis was clear. The majority of Malay youth on Twitter in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Penang either supported the charges (26%) or adopted a neutral position (54%), while the majority of Chinese youth (76%) opposed the charges. Nearly half of Indian youth (49%) opposed the charges.

At least 31.35% of users in these states complained about double standards. However only 49.69% of these users opposed the charges. The majority of the Malay users were either neutral or supported Lim Guan Eng being charged. They were in favour of more politicians and civil servants being charged in addition to Lim Guan Eng.

The perception of double standards was an important issue, but not one that worked in Lim Guan Eng’s favour for the Malay youth in these 3 states.

When it came to the issue of Lim Guan Eng stepping down, 21% of Malay users wanted him to step down while only 5% wanted him to stay on. Chinese users showed a reverse pattern with 7% wanting him to step down and 18% wanting him to stay on. Indian support was divided as 22% of Indian users wanted him to step down and 24% wanted him to stay on.

These patterns in the data point to a lack of support from Malay youth for Lim Guan Eng, particularly from Malay men. Support from Chinese users was very reliable while support from Indian users was divided.

Low support from Malay youth could also explain the lack of interest in other states. Because Malays are the majority ethnic group on Twitter in Malaysia, if they do not care much about DAP or Lim Guan Eng they would be less motivated to tweet about the corruption scandal.

Given the fact that the majority of the electorate are Malay, and Chinese-majority seats are shifting towards becoming mixed seats, the low support from Malay youth is an important issue for DAP.

Bad indicators for DAP

The lack of national interest in one of DAP’s top leaders being charged with corruption is not a good indicator of support for DAP in the next general election. Excluding retweets, 71.5% of local interest was concentrated in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Penang.

Facebook statistics indicate that Lim Guan Eng is not very popular outside of Penang. While DAP remains the most popular Opposition party on Facebook, the loss of 25% of its male fan-base in the last 2 months may be the start of a downward trend. Exclusive interest in the Opposition on Facebook has not been this low since November 2015.

During our analysis we found that DAP has suffered a loss of reputation due to Lim Guan Eng being charged and his refusal to step down or go on leave.

Even Lim Guan Eng’s own supporters had a divided opinion on whether he should face charges. Those that insisted he was innocent were criticised by other users because Opposition supporters have often insisted PM Najib Razak is guilty based on allegations alone. This makes it harder for DAP to win back support because their supporters are not seen as credible.

13. 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. Please note that the appearance of a limited number of markers (particularly in Penang) is due to overlapping markers.

Blue markers = Support the Charges; Red markers = Oppose the Charges; Yellow markers = Neutral

13.1 Penang


13.2 Kuala Lumpur and Selangor


14. References

[1] Yunus, A. MP wants MACC to probe Guan Eng over land, house deals. Free Malaysia Today. Retrieved from http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2016/03/17/mp-wants-macc-to-probe-guan-eng-over-land-house-deals/ on July 3rd 2016

[2] (2016, July 2) For Khir Toyo, case against Guan Eng is ‘poetic justice’. Malay Mail Online. Retrieved from http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/for-khir-toyo-case-against-guan-eng-is-poetic-justice  on July 3rd 2016

15. Appendix 1 – Popular Content

The following tweets were among the most popularly shared tweets / images related to Lim Guan Eng and his corruption charges during this period.