KUALA LUMPUR - The majority of Umno's 196 divisions may have supported Prime Minister Najib Razak's decision to drop Muhyiddin Yassin from Cabinet but on Twitter, nearly 90 per cent of youths were against the sacking.
In its final analysis of tweets posted last Tuesday when Muhyiddin's sacking was announced in a major Cabinet shakeup, social media research firm Politweet found that 440 or 87.65 per cent of the 502 users surveyed were unhappy with the decision, the Malay Mail Online reported.
The users, estimated to be between 18 and 30 years old, mostly disagreed with Muhyiddin's removal because he had demanded answers from Najib on the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) controversy, according to the report.
"They had hoped his pressure would provide answers about 1MDB," the firm said in its findings.
"There was much praise for him for being brave and honest; as well as expressions of love, respect, sadness and pity. Many users also expressed hope that he could become PM in future," it was quoted as saying.
Of the 440 users, 195 or 38.84 per cent spoke in general terms against Muhyiddin's removal, while 184 or 36.65 per cent took the opportunity to criticise Najib, with many calling for the prime minister's resignation and some even hurling personal insults at the leader.
The remaining 61 of the 440 users or 12.15 per cent, had urged Muhyiddin to organise his own anti-Najib campaign in protest of his removal, the Malay Mail Online reported.
Some even suggested that he start his own party, work with former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad or with members of the opposition.
Politweet concluded that at least 49 per cent of the Twitter users surveyed were against the prime minister, said the report.
The research firm also observed that most of the negative sentiments were directed at Najib and not the ruling Umno or the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition .
"Umno has a base of support among the youth that they can build on. However criticism of Umno outweighed expressions of support by a slim margin. If something isn't done there is a risk that this base of support will reduce over time," Politweet said.
"The dominant message we see is that the youth want Najib to step down," it added.
Najib shook up his Cabinet on July 28, removing detractors, including his deputy Muhyiddin, who had openly criticised the government's handling of allegations of abuse of public funds by 1MDB.
He replaced Muhyiddin with Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, an Umno vice-president who is popular in the party.
An Umno Supreme Council member revealed over the weekend that 154 divisions had endorsed Najib's Cabinet reshuffle prior to last Tuesday's announcement.
Even influential Dr Mahathir - who had for months led calls for Najib to step down - admitted that Umno leaders had "crossed over" and now fully supported their president.