How much control do superpowers have over Malaysia? Survey says ethnic Chinese prefer China, Malays prefer Russia

  • Compared to the US, Malaysians prefer China and Russia, while Malay men prefer Russia

  • The Chinese community, which often believes that superpowers exert minimal influence or engage in propaganda campaigns on Malaysian social media, has shown a pronounced preference for China.

  • The Chinese community felt that Putrajaya should do more in the South China Sea, and the Uyghurs felt they were being unfairly detained.

  • The Malays agree that all three superpowers influence local social media, but the Chinese disagree

KUALA LUMPUR, June 15 – A majority of Malaysians favor superpowers China and Russia over their rival the United States, according to a recent report by Taylor University, analytics consultancy Chasseur Group and Canadian think tank Digital Public Square.

The report, titled „Trust in the Media and Government: An Analysis of Superpower Influence,” said that those who supported Beijing were older or from the Chinese community, and Malay men were more pro-Kremlin.

„There has been a decline in America’s image, especially among older Malays, for obvious reasons,” Munira Mustafa, executive director of the Chasseur Group, said earlier this week when presenting the report’s findings, referring to Washington’s foreign policy, particularly its stance on Israel’s aggression. Palestine.

„There is a perception that Russia provides a counterbalance to US hegemony,” he added.

In the same presentation, Benjamin Y.H. Lowe, director of Taylor University’s Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions Impact Lab, noted that since the study was conducted in November of last year, Israel’s retaliation against Gaza may have increased in the month preceding the Hamas attack. American sentiments among Malaysians.

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The survey found the percentage of respondents in favor of the superpowers as follows:

  • United States – 41 percent

  • China – 57 percent

  • Russia – 54 percent

When it comes to superpowers’ campaign influencing opinions in the country, respondents were divided: more educated men and higher-income (earning more than RM5,000 per month) Malay men agreed with the sentiment, while lower-income men or younger ethnic Chinese men disagreed.

Although „campaign” is not defined in the poll, Low said it generally refers to political information that influences operations.

Campaigning on social media also involves the use of individuals, commonly known locally as „cybertroopers”, to spread political propaganda on social media.

„We thought it was very interesting because, for Russia, it is the country with the most documented evidence of international intervention, not just in Malaysia, but around the world,” Low said.

The survey also found that foreign state media such as China’s CGTN and CRI (6 percent each), or Russia’s Sputnik (4 percent) make small purchases here.

While users of Chinese outlets tend to be ethnic Chinese with less education, Sputnik consumers are from the Indian community.

Other findings include:

  • 87 percent of the respondents agreed that the Malaysian government should do more to protect our interests in the South China Sea – and these were from the Chinese community.

  • Fewer than half (47 percent) agreed that Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China’s Xinjiang region are being unfairly detained – the Chinese who supported this.

  • Just 19 percent agreed that Russian military action in Ukraine was understandable. Those who espoused this sentiment tended to be left-leaning Malays or less educated.

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A survey commissioned by Digital Public Square and conducted by data and intelligence firm TGM Research in November last year.

A total of 1,537 respondents were divided into ethnic Malays (953), ethnic Chinese (353) and ethnic Indians (72).

The results of the survey were analyzed by Taylor University and the Chaucer Group, resulting in a report.

The findings, released earlier this week by the Washington-based Pew Research Center, reflected:

  • More Malaysians hope Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping on world affairs

  • 84 percent of Malaysians Not accepted US President Joe Biden’s handling of the conflict between Israel and Hamas

  • Similarly, Malaysia ranks third in unfavorable views of the United States – with 65 percent of respondents giving the superpower poor marks.


This article is part of a series of stories based on the report „Trust in the Media and Government: An Analysis of Superpower Influence.” Read other articles:

Read Benjamin Lowe and Munira Mustafa Comment piece on the importance of their studies.

Malay Mail He is a member of Internews’ Indo-Pacific Media Resilience Program, working to combat foreign information manipulation and interference in local democracy.

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