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Newspaper Tool To Promote Malaysia Government Propaganda Media Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 2306 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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1. Introduction

During the pre-election, the election candidates usually will choose appropriate media as their major election tools to disseminate their asserted statements for changing government policies and convey their main purpose of gaining the ruling power from opposition parties, which may sway the voters’ decision of balloting. So what is media? Why does media so important during the pre-election period? The word of ‘media’ is included the whole host of modern communication systems, for example cinema, television, newspapers, magazines, advertisements, radio, and interactive multimedia. These developments depend on the use of industrial technology to produce, send and receive message.

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Country information

From the overview coaches and trainees that like working journalists will need to do some intensive research before they arrive in an unfamiliar country. It is enormously beneficial to have a basic understanding on the country. That included their demographics, culture and history, as well as the current political situation and their media environment. This information is important in setting the context for the specific election. They also need to know about the specific conditions of the election. We will able to country information thought today’s internet system and also some country-specific guidebooks. Besides that, the local government’s websites will also present some basic information on the country’s population, economic conditions and health standards to educational levels. In examining guidebooks, we also can look for information such as life expectancy and number of citizens of voting age, extent of literacy, different ethnic groups, religions and languages, and urban and rural populations. These are factors to consider in guiding media coverage of an election campaign because they identify important groups of voters, challenges to voter education, and regions or issues which otherwise might be neglected. However in Malaysia, the Sultan is elected by hereditary state rulers to serve a 5-year term. Prime Minister is designated by parliament. In the Senate (Dewan Negara), 44 members are appointed by the monarch to serve 3-year terms and 26 members are elected by the state legislatures to serve 3-year terms*. In the House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat) 222 members are elected by direct popular vote to serve 5-year terms.

Political context

Political background

Election is about few political parties are competing with each other for the popular support and power, so it is essential to know the basic facts about the political history of the country. There may be facts or events which play a symbolic or special role in the parties’ campaigns because of how they are perceived by the voters. Information such as the date of the country’s independence, major internal and trans-boundary conflicts, and the names of former heroes or villains, who may become an issue or rallying point in the campaign, should be identified. These kinds of considerations also apply in the case of referenda. Other factors to examine include the pattern of stability of previous governments, and the role of the army or other forces, or foreign interventions in the duration of past governments. Beside that, the structure of government and leading figures like presidency, parliamentary democracy, monarchy, and so on.

Current political landscape

Beside that, the current political landscape or immediate context on the election is an essential knowledge for coaches to know. They need to learn what key issues arose during the term of Coaching Manual for Media Support during Elections. For example, the country information, and the previous government works; on how they were handled and whether they caused this election. Coaches should know the names of the main political parties, their central ideologies and leaders, and relative strength and popularity. This kind of information aids coaches in assessing whether election reporting is balanced. Other factors that under consideration are include the extent of democracy, the strength and activity of civil society in public life, the courts’ and authorities’ respect for the rule of law and human rights, extent of corruption and lawlessness, and the economic or political disparity between identity groups. In addition to media reports and country profiles, organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, Freedom House, the International Crisis Group, and the United Nations Development Programme’s human develop meant indicators can provide such assessments. Coaches will also usually find the reports and staff of international observer teams monitoring the election to be helpful and well-informed.

For Malaysia, it is a country which is seem to be a long and drawn out struggle to what is now some resemblance of a democratic nation much like its neighbours Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and East Timor (admittedly East Timor isn’t a direct neighbour but it’s in the hood).  This country experiences significant problems domestically with extremes in poverty and wealth.  There are seemingly an endless string of problems with labour and workers’ rights, as well as significant issues with deforestation and continued infringements on human rights.  What makes 2010 significant for Malaysia is that despite its apparent problems, the most significant of them being the domestic political turmoil, there appears to be progress towards better transparency? However the problems for the incumbent leadership really are about domestic issues and how to keep their country from quickly sliding backwards after years of relatively steady economic growth – albeit underpinned by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. With growing extremist populism in politics taking root even in the moderate political parties, the country faces growing isolation as other countries’ attempt to work to resolve Western sentiment of the region being riddled with terrorism, extremist organisations and terrorist training camps.  There are many unresolved problems between different ethnic groups, especially involving Malaysian Chinese.

The media environment

The first priority is to identify the principles of the country’s media freedoms and regulations. Coaches must then determine the practical realities of these freedoms and regulations. In some countries there may be wide-ranging protection for media freedoms in the constitution or in legislation but the freedoms are much abused or ignored by authorities or journalists in daily life. Media regulations among the essential media regulations to examine are:

Constitutional guarantees for a free press: Do they exist in law? Do the courts protect them effectively against government or other interests’ harassment, intimidation, assault?

• Media regulation bodies (press councils and radio-television regulators):

What powers do they have? Are they independent of government? Are they free of corruption? Do they defend media freedoms? Do they fairly discipline irresponsible media?

• Content restrictions: Are there laws which censor what the media can report or offer as opinions? Who imposes these restrictions? Is there an appeal to the courts? Are there laws against hate speech? Is criminal libel used to suppress published criticism of government?

• The Internet: Is it widely available? Is it regulated or censored? Is it influential?

• Ownership restrictions: Is media ownership determined by government, by law, or by free market competition?

• Journalist registration/accreditation: Is there any law defining who can be a journalist? Who administers the law? Is this law used to restrict free expression?

• Broadcast media: How is it regulated? Is licensing conducted fairly? Is public or state broadcasting treated differently than private broadcasting?

• Are there Access-to-Information laws? Are they effective? Are they blocked by secrecy laws, political interference or bureaucratic obstruction?

Firstly, newspaper is the best way to research because it is a regularly scheduled publication containing news, information, and advertising, has emerged as one of the important media throughout the entire world. However, its multifunctional purpose has caused it to be manipulated in many forms. In Malaysia, the most obvious manipulation towards newspaper is in the form of political view. Political parties especially the ones who act as the rulers of the country are continuously taking advantage in the name of veto power to use newspaper as the primary tool to promote their propaganda. (Media Stereotyping: Reporting War and Terrorism, 2007). As a definition, propaganda stands for a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position. As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda. “It is proven as it is used in the ancient times; the Roman Empire published Acta Diurna, or government announcement bulletins, around 59 BC, as ordered by Julius Caesar.” (Acta Diurna, 2010). Looking back during the National Election campaign in 2008, the Barisan Nasional governments launched their massive political campaign through the means of newspaper and other forms of media to sell out their propaganda in order to influence the minds of the citizens to vote for them. To make things easier, they are the rulers of this country and thus, no one can put the barrier on them on what-so-called restriction of press. The determination of press freedom is on their hands. However, in the campaign, they suffered the most humiliating defeat in the history of Malaysia as they lost five states to the opposition sides, Pakatan Rakyat; Kelantan, Kedah, Perak, Selangor, and Penang. How could it happen?

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This situation lied on several factors. The non-government newspapers played their role in publishing news on the truth behind every promise made by the governments sold out to the society during the election campaign. This actually worked out as citizens realised that they could not be continuously cheated off by the fake promise. It can be said here that propaganda does not always work the way it should. Currently, the issue of the concept of 1Malaysia is another case regarding the manipulation of newspaper by the authorities to promote their propaganda. The introduction of this concept has been massively spread out to the mass audience via various kinds of mass media including newspapers. The spreading out can be classified as successful as everyone is talking about 1Malaysia now. However, the concept, introduced by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak, is still on the surface and the truth behind it is hidden from the acknowledgement of the public. 1Malaysia concept is still blurred and confusing. Everybody seems to accept the propaganda without realising the effects on them. The most obvious effect that will someday happen is that it harms and destroys the special rights enjoyed by the bumiputra especially Malays. Before things turn from worst to worse, Pakatan Rakyat try to stop the citizens from getting carried away by the cheat through the only medium they are able to; newspapers owned by them. Is it going to work?


In this research, there are three main problem statements that are aimed to be found out. The first problem statement is that newspaper is being used as the primary tool to promote Malaysia government propaganda. The matter that is about to be conveyed is the advantage enjoyed by the government to simply use their veto power to spread their propaganda. Newspapers like Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian, New Straits Times and many others are owned by the government. The question is that are these “puppets” being manipulated to do the promotion on behalf of the Barisan Nasional government neither directly or indirectly to set up the minds of the society. The second one is that the use of newspaper as a medium of spreading government propaganda is effective and giving impacts to the society or it is either occurring the other way around. The governments are the ones who act as the gatekeeper to all media including print media like newspaper. They pick what to publish and eliminate news that is risky to harm them. The question whether it is totally effective or not in manipulating the citizens’ minds will be answered in the findings of this research.

Last but not least, the opposition-own newspapers are also playing their role in revealing the hidden truth behind every propaganda of the ruler of this country and how effective their messages in setting up citizens’ minds? Newspapers like Suara Keadilan and Harakah are owned by the opposition sides. This research will reveal whether they succeed in showing the truth behind the propaganda of the government in the high-risk situation of do-or-die as there is a very high possibility that the government will misuse their power in stopping these kinds of newspapers to continue showing their true colours.

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