1. Machine learning algorithms dive into GE14 battle on Twitter-verse
  2. MTUC backs Harapan in 14 GE
  3. Malaysia makes significant progress in implementing UN SDGs
  4. Japan offers facial recognition technology as part of KL-Singapore high-speed rail bid
  5. Chinese Vice-Premier to go to Washington to continue talks to avert a trade war

Machine learning algorithms dive into GE14 battle on Twitter-verse
OVER the last couple of years, the power of data analytics has been cast in a negative albeit powerful limelight as a social-shaping, highly impactful kingmaker tool in a nation’s election. Think Cambridge Analytica and the slew of claims of election rigging and data privacy violation. Taking pride as a Malaysia-grown regional enterprise, the Center of Applied Data Science (CADS) seized the opportunity of the 14th Malaysian General Election to showcase how data analytics can leverage upon morally-ethical data sources and still produce highly-impactful, game-changing insights that can ultimately be used to decide the winning coalition in the Malaysian GE 14. Between March 1 and April 30, 2018, we collected 118,491 tweets involving “General Election Malaysia” and “GE14” contents, which became the basis of our “Malaysia’s GE14 Sentiment Analysis” study. We then employed machine learning algorithms as well as data collection and cleansing, sentiment analysis, online behaviour analysis, topic modelling and influencers’ network detection in generating actionable insights. Our study focused on trying to understand if it could pick up the salient sentiments of the Malaysian population using Twitter-verse as the proxy environment and potential influencing individuals or factors that could contribute to the sentiment polarity from the GE14 environment. From the get-go, we were able to identify one coalition clearly leading the way in leveraging social media to develop the sentiment polarity compared to the other coalition groups.

Bolstered with a strong 76% accuracy level corroborated by our internal validation team, we were able to establish that the “stickiness” of the election engine for the Barisan National coalition, the Pakatan Harapan coalition and the Parti Agama Semalaysia (PAS) coalition each depended on different trigger points when it came to garnering support or even establishing defences. For example, the Barisan Nasional coalition depended on standard influencer-generated “I Love My PM” and manifesto-related postings that were not able to reach out the wider population of Malaysia. Pakatan Harapan coalition, however, picked up on the “burden of the Rakyat” sentiment which was easy to illicit content creation from many influencers that believed that they were creating content from the Rakyat’s perspective.

Combined with the constant upheaving of scandal-overtoned postings from the negative side of the Twitter-verse, Barisan Nasional had an uphill battle in turning around the sentiment despite having a strong track record in governmental performance. This is data-supported evidence that reveals “Current Sentiment Crushes Past Performance” is indeed a real factor to be considered by any election engine.

Another interesting insight has been the unintended biasness that certain foreign media have created in GE14. With increasing scepticism towards Malaysian local media, the Pakatan Harapan coalition, which owns a commanding dominance in the usage of digital social media as an election engine, has built a reliance on foreign publications and media to build the required image to support their election campaign. While the Barisan Nasional coalition has tried to sway sentiments by providing a more accurate representation of Malaysia’s economic performance over the years, the perception doggedly remains that this is simply another focus-shifting effort from the ruling coalition. Built on this insight, a more emotion-recognising election campaign and strategy would have elicited more support for Barisan Nasional compared to a track-record and performance-benchmarking focus.

A final insight from our study, as we start gearing up for the final stretch of Malaysia’s GE14, is the shortening of impact and “campaign-memory” of the Twitter-verse. From a nonchalant attitude to the GE14 prior to the dissolution of Parliament, it is evident that the Malaysian public is becoming increasingly sensitive to “sentiment triggers” irrespective from which coalition group they come from.

MTUC backs Harapan in 14 GE
The Malaysia Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has called on the 14 million-strong workforce in the country to vote for Pakatan Harapan in the 14th general election tomorrow. In a statement today, MTUC secretary-general J Solomon said doing so would send the message that workers are key to the country’s economy and “should never be ignored”. “We want a government that gives us equal respect in a tripartite body, so that workers can have an equitable share in the wealth of the nation,” he said. According to Solomon, wages are low and workers are becoming poorer, and the situation is compounded by the rising cost of living and the goods and services tax (GST). “75 percent of Malaysians do not have enough savings to tide them over for more than a week without work, and 18 percent of Employees Provident Fund (EPF) members will be living just above the poverty line, after retirement.”

Malaysia makes significant progress in implementing UN SDGs
Malaysia has made significant progress in the adoption of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under the national development agenda, said Bank Negara Malaysia Deputy Governor, Jessica Chew Cheng Lian. She said, Malaysia’s national economic development policies, implemented more than four decades ago, had mirrored a number of the UN SDGs long before the initiative was introduced in 2016. “Malaysia has had a long-standing commitment to the pursuit of sustainable and inclusive growth,” she said in her keynote address at the Global Forum on Remittance, Investment and Development 2018 Asia Pacific in Kuala Lumpur. The SDGs are a collection of 17 global goals developed by the UN to replace the Millennium Development Goals which ended in 2015, covering a broad range of social and economic development issues.

Japan offers facial recognition technology as part of KL-Singapore high-speed rail bid
Japan is offering advanced facial recognition technology that would ensure smooth travelling between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, as part of its bid for the KL-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) project. Japan’s Ambassador to Malaysia Makio Miyagawa said the technology offered by a Japanese company would help to ensure swift immigration clearance when commuters travel between Malaysia and Singapore. “If commuters need to take a long time in immigration, then a high-speed rail will not be efficient and beneficial for the commuters,” he told Bernama. The ambassador added that Japan’s bullet train’s, or shinkansen, accident-free record since its introduction in 1964, is another strong factor in its bid for the project, which is estimated to cost between RM50 billion (US$12.7 billion) and RM60 billion. “Our country is the first in the world to invent this high speed rail technology, and nowadays it could run between 250kmh and 320kmh. The shinkansen safety system itself ensures that the train will not collide with other trains using the same rail,” he said. Bids for the KL-Singapore HSR project are due to be submitted by the middle of this year and the successful bidder will be known by the end of 2018.

Chinese Vice-Premier to go to Washington to continue talks to avert a trade war
Trade talks aimed at averting a US-China trade war will resume in Washington next week, the White House announced on Monday. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said China’s Vice-Premier Liu He will visit the US capital “to continue the discussions with the president’s economic team”. Word of the visit by Liu, China’s top economic adviser, came three days after a US delegation led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin left Beijing after two days of talks that produced no apparent consensus, leaving open the possibility that punitive tariffs on US$50 billion worth of imports from China would take effect in the coming weeks. In last week’s talks, the United States demanded that China cut the trade deficit the US faced by at least US$200 billion by the end of 2020. The US said its trade deficit with China was US$375.2 billion last year. Additionally, the US called on China to halt state subsidies for industries under its “Made in China 2025” plan. The Chinese government released a brief statement wrapping up the trade talks on Friday, calling the negotiations “candid and efficient”. A statement from the White House described the discussions as “frank”.