Cultural and media policy

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What is "National Culture"?

Does it change overtime, and if so, how?

The national culture becomes a very important asset to keep and taking care of, by the citizens in its country itself. Basically based on the research provided, culture can be defined as a cumulative system about knowledge, beliefs, experiences, attitudes, meaning, background, and religions. Every country has its own culture, which makes its country has its own uniqueness and characteristics. Besides that the national culture also becomes an important part for every country to taking care of, so we can give it to the other generation. When we talk about the national culture in Malaysia, the people in its country were absolutely very blessed to have a lot of cultures, it can be seen from the different types of religions, races or ethnics, and background; thus, all of it are forms into one of the national culture or in Malay language usually called as a "Kebudayaan Malaysia".

Based on the research, the Malaysians culture have been meeting and mixing since the very beginning of the history of Malaysia until nowadays. It's been more than fifty hundreds years a go the Malaysians are welcoming and trading the new culture from China and India to be accepted in here. Basically there are many aspects, including the media, which are playing an important role to develop and introduce the Malaysians national culture to the local citizens and the world wide countries, even though the media also become the main reason why the national culture can be change over the time. Later on, I will explain in details more about the national culture in Malaysia, which can be seen from the society, language, and cuisine point of view. Furthermore, I will also discuss in details in either the national culture could be changed by using more specific reason and examples provided.

Malaysia is a country which has a population of about to reach 2.8 million in this 2010 (based on the Department of statistic and economic planning unit Malaysia). When we talk about the classification of the society, Michael Pinches on his book has stated that, "Malaysia shows an unusually balanced ethnic structure made up of two dominant groups; the indigenous groups or bumiputra, and the immigrant groups for Chinese and Indian citizens" (1999-113). In Malaysian society, basically there are three kind of main ethnicity which consist of the Malays who are Muslims and a form majority of the races, with 65.1 percent of the percentage; Chinese who are mostly Buddhist and Christian with 26.6 percent; and lastly is Indian who are mainly Hindu's and Christian with 7.7 percent. As for the last percent percentage of Malaysians citizens are consists of the population which includes the Eurasians and the group of people from Sabah and Sarawak which are located in north of Borneo ( These kinds of differences and races have brought their own traditions and customs, which are surely gives and bring Malaysia more into a colorful heritage.

Language is very important in a communication and to get the information. This kind of system is very interesting to learn because it has a different kind of language from every country. The Malaysians language is usually called as a Bahasa Melayu or Bahasa Malaysia. Based on the historical culture of Malaysia, the Malay language becomes the official language of Malaysia since 1967. Since then, the majorities of Malaysians nowadays knows and learn on how to speak Bahasa Melayu, it also has brought all the races in Malaysia more closely and bridging the gap of language between each of them. Moreover, based on the research English language also becomes one of the most important languages and usually spoken in Malaysia. In early days during the British colonialism, the English language that time become the administrative language of British and it has brought to give more development to this country. Besides the two languages being used, the Chinese citizens in Malaysia are still speaks with their own language, such as Hokkien, Cantonese, and also Mandarin. As for Indian citizens, most of them are speaks Tamil, also can not to be forgotten the other citizens of Malaysia are also speaks with Bahasa Melayu mix up with their own dialects, such as in Sabah and Sarawak. Based on my understanding about the Malaysian culture, media in here are also playing an important role to maintaining and promoting each of its language or what we called as Multilingualism through some programs and information's in either television or newspaper by using Malay, Chinese, Tamil, and English language. By doing so, this becomes an opportunity for all Malaysians citizens to learn on how to speak the other language; it also become its own characteristics and uniqueness from Malaysia because the communities still can live together and relatively harmony, although there are having a racial differences between each of them.

When we talk about the cuisine, Malaysia is one of the countries which very famous with their food. Basically, the mixture of the races who lives together in Malaysia really gives a lot of opportunities and advantages for this country, including their food. By using the mixture of Malay, Chinese, and Indians culture, it surely gives a uniquely and a new perfect combination. Rice and noodles are always become the number one and the main food ingredients in Malaysia, these are the two types of food that mostly consumed by the citizens. The well-known nasi lemak and teh tarik (Pulled Tea) also become the most favorites in this country. Mostly the Malays tend to likes some sweet and spicy dishes, such as Sambal, to be consumed together with their main dishes. Moreover, the Indian citizens are also having their own way to consumed; the influence can be seen from the cuisine such as by eating bread naan, capati, puris mix up together with the curry, one of the famous Indian cuisines. Although the Malaysians cuisine nowadays mostly comprises with Malays, Chinese, and Indians food, but still, this country have a rule provided by the Malaysians Government stated that all Malaysians Muslim are prohibited by eating pork and drink alcohol, which are the most favorite dishes and beverage among the Chinese citizens.

Based on Terry Flew (1995-76) has stated that, "Television as a cultural technology has the capacity to promote the local culture and a distinctive national identity." Television is one of the best media communications which is playing as an important role in order to promote the country and it's cultural to the local people and the world wide. There are certain programs in Malaysia tends to promote the new talents locally and internationally, such as by joining the Malaysian Idol and Akademi Fantasia, and it seems has receiving a lot of attention from Malaysians citizens and the media in every seasons of the show. Furthermore, some of the Malaysian radio broadcasters "RTM1" and "RTM2" channels are also promoting the local contents of arts; basically the programs are more into the Malaysians culture for example by showing the classical singing programs to ensure that all of the citizens would never forget their own traditional culture even though the country nowadays are getting more influences by the westernization culture.

Dennis O'Neil has stated that, "All cultures change through the time, no culture is statistic" (1997). Based on my understanding in relation to the study of culture, it is possible for the national culture to be changed following the modernization era, not only it happens in Malaysia but also other countries around the world. It can be said so because the media communication, especially the television, does gives a big influence of these changes. John Fiske (1987-224) also has stated that, "Whatever the controversy about television's role in our culture, there is no doubt that people enjoy it, and that watching it is a major source of pleasure in our lives." The effect of the media television is very influential to the living of the society nowadays. We can not deny that television is the media communication that is having the highest ratings of the viewers in every day life; it also makes television become the most powerful media communications around the public life lately.

According to Terry Flew (1995-76) has argued that, "Television can play either a positive or negative role in the development of national culture." Basically when we talk about the positive role of the television, it is highly beneficial to develop and promote the national culture, by spreading the information and knowledge to the local citizens and international countries, through some reality TV and television programs. However, we can not deny that television also has given some negative effects to the viewers in the relation of the cultural changing. Based on my own perspective, television nowadays tend to send the image on how to be more westernize to Malaysians citizens, especially to teenagers. Based on the facts provided, most of the TV channels nowadays are showing some sexy video clips by famous artist. So, by this point of view besides most of the society nowadays likes to learn something new, the influence also has brought up teenagers thoughts that the style of dressing is the most important thing from others. Even though the local televisions in Malaysia are still showing and promoting the local culture, but the other TV channel are still showing the international production, such as E! Channel in mostly showing the lifestyle of western teenagers, and Asian Food Channel (AFC) from Astro which mostly showing the western food from many countries.

Moreover, the westernization culture does play an important role in the relation of the changing of Malaysians national culture. Basically, the impact of the globalization era has given a lot of negative effects especially towards the traditional culture, and it also does happened in Malaysia. There are some examples to describe on how the globalization era could change the national culture of Malaysia to modernization era. Firstly, the most obvious impact can be seen from the Malaysians national customs which also become another significant part of the culture. Essentially in terms of dressing, the citizens are having their own traditional which are mainly to wear it in some special occasion like in Hari Raya, Deepavali, and Chinese New Year. Based on the research provided, the traditional costume for Malay citizens familiar to called as a Baju Kurung, as for the Chinese citizens they prefer to wear Cheongsam, and for the Indian traditional costume is called Saree. But in today's society, it is hardly to see the Malaysians are wearing the national clothes. Most of them, especially teenagers, are prefers to wear the modern dressed up, such as tank top, t-shirts, and jeans.

The second bad impact causing the changes of the Malaysian national culture can be seen in a food industry point of view. the Malaysians nowadays tend to get the fast food restaurant for their everyday meals; like KFC, Mc Donald's, and Burger King; compared to the traditional Malay, Chinese and Indians cuisines like the famous nasi lemak and teh tarik. Lastly in terms of music and arts, it's extremely obvious to see that the Malaysians music nowadays more focusing to the western music which usually plays by some several broadcasting radio in Malaysia like Hitz FM and Fly FM; in order to attract more audiences who turns into westernize culture nowadays. Even though radio is the most underestimated mass medium" (Craig, 9), but we can not deny that this type of media communication still can reach a large of audience ratings. Besides that, most of the Malay songs are also provided in English lyrics. As in terms of arts, silat (the elegant Malaysian dance and the martial arts) and some kinds of Malaysians traditional dances are no longer exist in the society. Most of them, especially teenagers, are prefer to learn the western dances such as "break dance" and "shuffling".

Besides, television has become the most powerful mass medium in the industrialized world (Craig, 7); the westernization culture has also become the biggest impact of the cultural changing in Malaysia. It can not be doubt that the world is changing follows the new era, so does Malaysia. Based on my opinion, besides there is some negative effects because of the changes of Malaysians national country, there is also some positive effects can be seen from it. It all depends with the Government and the rest of society in Malaysia on how to manage their national country in order not to lose and being replaced by the new culture, because no matter what happened some changes can still give a positive response and positive feedback for the country itself.