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Why aren’t Malays vocal about their opposition to govt?

 | October 21, 2017

While some say they fear the repercussions, others say they simply are not as interested in politics as they are in other news.

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Both Amanah’s communications director, Khalid Samad, and the political analyst, Khoo Kay Peng, have told us nothing new about the lack of Malay support in social media, for the opposition.

The two men may have been “politically correct”, because they refrained from mentioning Malay intellect.

Politweet is a non-partisan research firm, which analyses trends in social media. In 2009, it started monitoring political and activism trends on Twitter, and in late 2012 expanded its remit to cover Facebook users.

In a recent survey, Politweet concluded that Malay social media users were mainly pro-government whilst those who spoke Chinese, were more inclined to be supporters of the opposition.

Khalid was appalled by this inference and dismissed the suggestion that Malay social media users were wholly supportive of the government. He listed many reasons for the Malay response.

FIRST: He claimed that Malay or Malay speaking social media users who supported the opposition were less vocal than their Chinese counterparts mainly because they feared repercussions for openly supporting the opposition.

SECOND: The Malays were less vocal because they feared being monitored and their identities being exposed.

THIRD: Many Malays have friends and family members who are pro-government. Showing open support for the opposition could have an adverse affect on their livelihoods, scholarships and businesses, and those of their friends.

FOURTH: A part of the Malay culture makes them more reserved, so they tend not to express their true feelings.

On the other hand, Khoo admitted that the study had its merits. He said that the last two general elections had shown that the Chinese were mainly opposition supporters, whilst the Malays were usually supportive of the government.

He also claimed that Umno mobilised a large cadre of cyber-troopers and that the mainstream media was not accessible to the DAP so it had to make full use of its presence in cyber-space.

One social observer said, “It is not strictly correct to say that the Chinese do not fear repercussions. They face an inordinate amount of discrimination daily, and are not afraid of being more vocal because they probably feel they have nothing to lose.

“Most are employed in the private sector, where they do not face a backlash, unlike those in government service. We hear of servicemen and teachers being transferred, at a moment’s notice for a remark made on Facebook. How should society deal with this unfairness?”

A political cynic said, “Both Khalid and Khoo have ignored one important aspect afflicting the Malays. Apart from a small minority, many Malays are afraid of giving their opinion. Their fear of being vocal, and their lack of making a stand, is not because they fear repercussions.

“They prefer to keep quiet, and play safe. That way, they cannot be slammed for their possibly misguided opinions, or incorrect conclusions.

“Look at social media sites and newspapers that cover news about divorce and celebrity gossip. The Malays are extremely vocal, and are not afraid to voice their opinions about a couple’s adultery or infidelity, and the commentators on these sites are mostly Malay.

Another commentator wondered if the Malays were simply not interested in politics or economics and did not bother to be vocal.

Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

Why Malays aren’t vocal against the government


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