Bawang Army in Malaysia: Reaction Toward Hate Speech – Is it a Cyber-Bully or Cyber-Aggression?

Nor Azimah Kamaruddin
Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia
Universiti Utara Malaysia, Sintok, Kedah, Malaysia
Lennora Putit, Amily Fikry
Universiti Teknologi MARA, Puncak Alam, Selangor, Malaysia



The Bawang army phenomenon is newly recognized, and no prior studies have explored it yet. Consequently, understanding this concept necessitates a qualitative research approach. Eight semi-structured interviews were conducted with pertinent stakeholders to probe various research questions. To achieve the first research objective, involving understanding Bawang army, the codes were organized into four categories; definitions, reasons, issues, and activities. The terminologies coined by Malaysian netizens, such as Bawang army and ‘mak kau hijau’, shape the identity of this phenomenon. The second research objective is to differentiate the Bawang army’s classifications, determining whether it falls under cyber-bullying or cyber- aggression. In-depth discussions were analyzed based on previous literature using the constant-comparative method. Several implications were observed. Firstly, industry practitioners need to exercise greater consideration when creating social media content. Secondly, future research should further investigate the distinct typologies of cyber-bullying and cyber-aggression autonomously.

Keywords:  Bawang army, cyber-aggression, cyber-bully, hate speech, social media, integrated marketing communication