Twitter users not blaming BN for Anwar verdict, survey shows

A survey of Twitter users has shown that just less than 2 per cent polled blame the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN), Umno or Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy conviction and incarceration. The MalayMail OnLine has this report:


The analysis by research firm Politweet published today also revealed that 37 per cent of 840 Twitter users based in Malaysia rejected the Federal Court verdict in the opposition leader’s Sodomy II trial, compared to just 17 per cent that accepted the decision. Almost one-third, or 32 per cent, had no clear opinion on the court ruling, saying they could not comment on a crime they did not witness, among other reasons.

“Less than 2 per cent of the population directly blamed the Prime Minister, Umno or Barisan Nasional. The verdict did not seem to trigger a strong negative response towards these parties,” Politweet said.

According to Politweet, rejection of the verdict was motivated more by disbelief that Anwar, 67, could sodomise former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, a younger man now aged 30, against the latter’s will, rather than by belief in political conspiracy or corruption. Anwar, who was charged with having consensual anal sex and not sexual assault, has maintained that the sodomy charges against him are politically motivated. The Federal Court upheld last Tuesday the 2014 Court of Appeal decision that had reversed the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) de facto leader’s acquittal of sodomising Mohd Saiful.

The Politweet survey showed that those who accepted the verdict gave reasons like supporting the legal process, believing in the validity of the evidence or believing that Anwar is gay.

“Among Anwar Ibrahim’s supporters, sadness was the most common response to the verdict followed by disbelief,” said Politweet.

“Outrage (based on tone of voice) was not commonly expressed and was largely directed at Saiful Bukhari and to a lesser extent, the judiciary,” the research firm added.

Politweet also noted that PR’s “inconsistent” stand on court rulings had alienated some among Twitter users who did not give a clear opinion on the verdict, while others were offended by PKR’s “Rakyat Hakim Negara” campaign in support of the party’s de facto leader.

“They believed it is not the people’s place to question the decisions of the courts or pretend to be legal experts,” said Politweet.

“Religious users (from the ‘Mixed – Only God Knows’ category) had a similar unquestioning position. Getting these users interested in joining their cause may be a challenge for Pakatan Rakyat,” it added. Politweet said, however, that Anwar remained popular with a “sizeable” number of young users, noting that the charismatic leader had received sympathy even from those who accepted the court verdict.

According to the survey, 9 per cent are undecided on the verdict, but express sympathy for Anwar and his family. About 5 per cent are also undecided and say only God knows what had happened between Anwar and Saiful. The sample of 840 Twitter users across the country was selected based on their tweet content and activity from February 10 to February 11. They are estimated to be between 18 and 35 years old, tweeting mostly in Bahasa Malaysia.