My topic for this study is How Media Can Play a Role for Better Understanding of the One Malaysia Concept Among Malaysians. I chose this topic because I would like to know how effectively media plays its role in order to make Malaysians understand what a “One Malaysia” is. This is very important because the people are encouraged to play their role towards nation building, also in order to achieve national unity among multi racial people in Malaysia.
The “One Malaysia” concept actually is a national level campaign which was launched in April 2009 in Malaysia by our Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak, to cultivate values and increase harmony among the races in Malaysia. Malaysia has three major ethnic groups, which are Malay, Chinese and Indian. “One Malaysia” came with the idea to improve the relations of all Malaysians, regardless of racial, religious or ethnic backgrounds. Sometimes, some people tends to do street demonstration because they are not satisfy about some benefits which other races can get, and from here they make the racial as an big issue. “One Malaysia” which was introduced will be the miracle formula to unite and build a progressive Malaysian nation in the 21st century and to put aside all this negative thinking.
From my research, I would like to find out whether the media practitioner really effectively plays its role to promote this important “One Malaysia” campaign. We have government media station in Malaysia, as well as private media station, both of the organization plays their own roles to make this campaign successful. But I would like to know how effective they play their role for this important campaign.
My research questions are:-
How does the media shape messages about “One Malaysia”?
How can media play a more active role in promoting “One Malaysia”?
I think my study is important because I can discover how effective the media practitioners played their role and also how they can play a more active roles in making this campaign successful. This study is important because I can get a feedback from the media practitioners on how they deliver the messages related to “One Malaysia”, what are their suggestions and how they can make it more effective in terms of delivering the messages.
The potential gain in knowledge from this study definitely will be the wonderful ideas from the people on the ground, their point of view, their efforts, their creative production and print out which can be shared and to apply in future. This study is really significant from few perspectives: from social aspect, it can increase better communication between races, from cultural perspective, it can stimulate cross-cultural understanding, from political view point, it can create stability in the country and from historical perspectives, it can improve the unity which we already achieved for several decades. All these elements will make Malaysia a stable and harmony place to live.
From my own experience as an Editor, broadcast journalist and producer for almost 12 years, I have a lot of experiences in doing news coverage. Few years back, I went for the news coverage about street demonstrations by one of the minority race in our country. They did that because they think they are not getting a special treatments like another race. Also, based on my experiences in editing news and producing news, I believe from here, I can understand and know well the topic.
My assumptions are that:
It is positive to practice “One Malaysia” because it will promote a peaceful and harmony country while maintaining the individual cultural identity.
The media can shape messages about “One Malaysia”.
The media can really be more active and effective in promoting “One Malaysia”.
According to Lent (1990) theory, media always become a tool to encourage different ethnic people to live together in harmony while respecting each others religions and races.
Theory/Review of Relevant Research
Malaysia is a renowned country that is located in the southern parts of Asia. Malaysia consists of thirteen states and three federal territories which in general form a total land mass of 329,847 square kilometers. The country also has a population of 28.25 million people, according to the 2010 census. One unique thing about Malaysia is the separation of the country into two separate regions by the South China Sea and known as West and East Malaysia. The capital of Malaysia is located at Kuala Lumpur and is the base for the federal government situated at Putrajaya. Basically, all the administration in the states are run by their state governments, but overall the federal government controls overall policies of the government administration from different ministries which are formed. There is no capital from each region in addition to the federal capital.
The country is bordered by other Asian countries that are very influential in the political and economic fields. Some of these countries include Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam and Philippines (Kaufman, 2008). Those countries are trade partners for Malaysia and their economic and political stability will have some impact in our trade and business achievement.
Malaysia has one of the most intriguing histories, as compared to any other country in the world, that can be dated back to the to the 16th century when the country was ruled by a king who was in-charge of the entire Malay kingdom. This is because even though the British were ruling the country in those days, they still had to get permission from the king if they wanted to do something, related to the country’s policy changes. The country later formed Malayan Union (federation of Malay states) with the help of the British in the year 1946 in order to prepare for independence. From here, eastern and western regions and states like Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore were unified; it later became a federation in 1948 and archived its independence 9 years later, in the year 1957 (WTEC Hyper-Librarian, 1997). Its union with Singapore wasn’t long because the country walked out of the union and later became an independent country (WTEC Hyper-Librarian, 1997).
The country is currently going through many challenges. At the moment, these challenges range from the matters of governance to nationalism. Some minority races which consist of the Chinese and Indian started to question their rights, because they are thinking that the Malays are getting some privileges compared to them. For example, the entrance to the university, they think the Malays got special quota for that, which is not true because it is based on the meritocracy. They tend to do some street demonstrations from time to time in order to voice their dissatisfaction.
The three main races in Malaysia have their own rights which were stated in the constitution of Malaysia since we got our independence in 1957. That constitution was formed after long discussions with three leaders of the political party consists three main races before we get our independence. During that time, that was the best solution formed to get all this three main races to get their own rights and they happily agreed. The constitution also was formed as such that it should not to be questioned by any races forever and agreed by all races since it is the best solution where every races got their own right which will never be questioned by anyone. So the question now is, why some people question about certain thing which was already in the constitution which are not supposed to be question anymore? Here where the problem starts.
So realizing this situation, our prime minister wanted to do something to tell all the races in our country that everyone is treated the same as what was formed in the constitution which is fairly draft with certain privileges to each races (which is fair). No other discrimination was given to different races. Everything done by the government strictly following the constitution and he want every races to respect that for the harmony. Other than that, everything was equally treated among the races.
So my study will focus on the role by media practitioner to deliver this important message about “One Malaysia” which was created in order to ease the tense among the races. I strongly believe media can contribute a lot to make it a successful project.
Roles of the media in bringing the understanding of Malaysia amongst the Malaysians
Before undertaking the assignment of identifying the roles that the media plays and its contributions in improving the understanding of the Malaysians in Malaysia, we have to first of all define and know what the media is and its roles/ importance amongst us (Kaufman, 2008).
In general, according to a lay-person’s understanding, the word media refers to various means of communication; this implies that the media is a platform that provides different people and individuals with the opportunity to communicate and exchange ideas amongst themselves in efforts aimed at improving their current form of life to a more improved one (Daily Express, 2003). This communication is passed on through various channels that include the television, radio, and newspaper; other forms of media such as the internet, brochures and advertisements on billboards amongst other sources of information tend to appeal or influence an individual to react (Nadchatram, 2007). Therefore, media simply is the device that creates a smooth platform for the creation and consumption of messages from one person/point to the other freely.
Roles of the media
The media plays a very important role which can influence people to act into something. It plays a very important role in shaping the society into a positive or negative direction. As we know, media has the power to change the attitude of the media, from their visuals (TV), audio (radio), print (newspaper). When people read all this information, they tends to act, it is something related like an advertisement, for example, which tend to increase the volume of product sells, the same thing apply here, it can change the attitude of the public.
The first role of the media is to educate its audience; this role is actually efficient because the people and the media are closely related to each other and interact frequently (Ahmad, 2005). The media interacts closely with the masses without any interference occurring between them; therefore, currently, the media will educate the message on the recommended issues, thus ensuring the people are well informed about what is expected of them or how to handle themselves in a given situation (Center For Democracy And Governance, 1999).
Another role of the media is to inform its audience / readers and viewers what is going on in their surrounding; the media will use its influence to tell or show their respective audience what they are supposed to be aware of. This is slightly different from the previous role of informing the audience as in this case the media will be updating the people on what is going on globally and locally, while educating will be introducing them to new ideas aimed at improving their lives and improving their living conditions (TechTerms.com, 2006).
Surveillance is another role of the media; this is where the media monitors and provides its audiences, viewers and readers with information pertaining to development of pressing issues. This is exclusively seen when the media monitors the behaviors, activities and any other important information that involves people indulging in inappropriate behaviors that may have negative impacts on the public (TechTerms.com, 2006). In the surveillance role, the media will investigate allegations that are indicated such as illegal cases. People which is Malaysians and non-governmental/governmental organizations are the most monitored by the media, thus, providing the audience with the ways that the organizations and individuals are influencing the ways in which an individual operates; at the same time, the media checks on the ways in which a disease or disaster is impacting individuals and at the same time updating them on the level of containing the disease or disaster in a community (Toumi, 2010).
In addition, the media also has the role of correlation. This is where the media will relate what is going on in one part of the world with what is happening in the other part of the world; the media highlights some of the intriguing matters that are hitting the headlines internationally, such as in the fields of science invention, politics, economics, social or abnormal situations (Ahmad, 2005). This will be made clear to the viewers as they will be in a position to know what the other parts are experiencing and to implement some of these things in order to improve their living conditions (Daily Express, 2003).
Finally, the media also plays the marketing role where the individual or a company will be in the position of airing his/her product in order to sell the product; thus, the individual will use the media in order to alert and/ or inform the people that there is a new product in the market (Foulger, 2003). This will make the prospective customers know the products and purchase them. The marketing role is being used by the media to sustain itself as the products they are advertising raise some income for the media organizations.
How Media Can Play a Role for Better Understanding of “One Malaysia”
In the previous section, I have noted the roles of the media and their significance to the people who interact with the media. Now, in this section of the paper I am going to explore the role that the media plays for a better understanding of the “One Malaysia” idea and evaluate the ways the media can use its powers to ensure that the Malaysians live in togetherness without misunderstanding each other. “The persuasive press inference predicts similar effects on public opinion estimates” (Christen, C. T., & Huberty, K. E., 2007). This means that the judgment from the media persuasive will give an impact on public behaviors.
The media is supposed to provide the Malaysian citizens with the kind of information which will enable each of them to practice acceptance and respect. This was what our prime minister, Dato Najib Tun Razak highlighted during the day he was taking over the office to lead the nation; he wanted to see a “One Malaysia” (Zainala, 2010). At that time, he gave the media the opportunity to be the center stage for making the dream of “One Malaysia” be a reality.
As I had mentioned earlier, the media plays an important role in any community as they are in close contact with the people (Nadchatram, 2007). The media can help the healing process of a country in crisis; in the case of Malaysia, the country has some cases of ethnicity conflict; and these are the key reasons that are destroying the close relationship amongst the Malaysian citizens (Ahmad, 2005). As I said earlier, some minority races such as Chinese and Indian are always using race as a tool to fight for certain rights which they don’t get compared to Malays. They always use race as a sentiment to demonstrate. In this case, the media is supposed to play a great role in explaining the real situation because some of the people will just demonstrate without knowing the real thing because they will just follow their friends or their leaders (opposition party). What I mean by real situation is, to make people understand about the constitution we formed, what are the topic we should not touch in order to maintain the harmony among races, and how people can understand the government is trying the level best for the comfort of all races.
I strongly believe that the media can formulate a method that can create a peaceful Malaysian society as a result of constant information regarding the importance of a “One Malaysia”. Mass media always becomes a tool to encourage different ethnic groups to respect each other’s culture and not to talk so much about the different races (Lent, 1990).
I am a well trained journalist and the only tool that I will use to unite my country Malaysia in the future is through the media. From my perspective, this is the only way that I can save my country from some misunderstanding among races because of the political and ethnic differences.
In Malaysia, we have a lot of media practitioners. We have a few languages in the TV stations, radio stations and also print media. Most of the media use Malay, the national language of our country, there are also a number of media people using other languages in their publications such as English, Mandarin and Tamil.
As one of the media practitioners in our country who are working with the government TV station in Malaysia called Radio Television Malaysia (RTM), I can share how we play our roles in creating better understanding of the “One Malaysia” concept among Malaysians.
In our news presentation, we always highlight any news related to “One Malaysia”. We have different channels which consist of different languages for news which is Malay, English, Mandarin and also Tamil. Some of the minority people cannot understand the Malay language well, especially among elderly people (they migrated from China or India), so for this type of people, we use our different channel which is called RTM2 (using their mother tongue, Mandarin and Tamil) to deliver the message. This channel will put on the air their mother tongue, not translated news; we have a different channel in the same TV station which is called RTM2. From here, they can have a better understanding about what is “One Malaysia”. The media through the news has the task of building an agenda in order to teach the public, and also to influence them to act towards the construction of the idea created (Turk, J., 1986)
From time to time, we always play advertisements about the “One Malaysia” campaign, especially during the prime time news. When people watch this often, it creates a better understanding and awareness about the unity they should initiate. We know that psychological effect, watching the same thing again and again can stimulate thinking, and it will transform into action.
At our station, we also always give priority to any type of news coverage related to “One Malaysia”. Let’s say if we have to choose which event we need to cover, we normally will not miss out on anything related to “One Malaysia” news coverage; we might skip other events which are less important. From here we play our part to highlight “One Malaysia”.
The same thing also applies when we produce our news bulletin. If we run out of time, and we need to choose which news we need to drop, we will never drop news related to “One Malaysia” for instance, if the news is a “light item”, we basically will not drop it too, and we will make it a “human interest” story; normally, we put it on the air before the closing of the news. This means for whatever reason, any news related to “One Malaysia”, has no chance of being treated as “no value news”.
As a media practitioner, we also have a sense of how we can play our role indirectly in order to make people realize about “One Malaysia”. We will give equal treatment of writing news about other races. For example, if the Indians or the Chinese wanted to do something related to unity or multiracial functions, then we will cover the event. Television news gradually will change the perspective of the audiences and, apart from fulfilling the basic hunger for information, it feeds the public desire to know more about the forces that shape their lives (Hermanson, 2007). When we put on the air this kind of news, it creates the awareness among the public how they should unite and live in peace and harmony.
If we talk about other media, or maybe print media, we can discover many ways of delivering the messages to the public about “One Malaysia”. As RTM, other media practitioners also play a great role in promoting the “One Malaysia” concept. They also highlight any write up related to “One Malaysia”. Daily we can see news about “One Malaysia” in our newspaper.
Sometimes they use simple way of delivering messages about One Malaysia, such as put a big picture consisting of three main races in Malaysia which is Malay, Chinese and Indian in any occasion; in any cultural program or any festivals, it portrays the unity and harmony between races in Malaysia. This is how I can see media play their role in promoting about the “One Malaysia” campaign. News images with the meaning of symbols were taken in the public space in any parades or festivals and become news images in print media and broadcast media; it is adapted and lived (Coonfield, G., & Huxford, J., 2009).
A lot of blogs are also written in order to create a better understanding about” One Malaysia” by certain individuals; for example, I can give the blog by our prime minister in order to explain about “One Malaysia”, and also the activities which can be read by everyone in this link: http://www.1malaysia.com.my/. From here, a lot of information can be gained for the public to understand better about what is “One Malaysia”. This is how effective media can play their role; with different approaches to reach the public and at the same time helping the government campaigns. Nevertheless, recognizing that the media followed the government’s line in this case is only part of the story; examining the particular narratives and news frames used by the media adds important insight (Chiung Hwang, C., 2005)
The media will have a positive impact if used properly in Malaysia in order to quell the rising differences that are being experienced in the country; in order for the media to realize the positive impact on the current existing differences that are currently being experienced in the country, the media has been used to persuade the public (Zainala, 2010). When the media persuades the public, this will ultimately contribute to an improved attitude of the Malaysian citizens who will listen to the views that are being explained by the media. This will automatically ensure that the citizens of Malaysia change their reasoning and then unite to form a country of national unity (Center For Democracy And Governance, 1999). The messages can delivered in a way how can change the attitude of the people, while giving a wider view about the unity, so when people watch, hear or see, they are impressed and change their attitude as well.
In persuading my audience, I will send messages that will basically be preaching for peace and, at the same time, persuading the Malaysian citizens to stop indulging in practices that marginalize other Malaysians. I would use the media to see an ethnic free Malaysia which can be realized by the help of the media practitioner in the country with putting a lot of their concentration in highlighting the issues that are related to make “One Malaysia” become reality (Daily Express, 2003).
Although the media is active and shapes the messages as above, they can take a more active role in the following ways. The government should also use or work hand-in-hand with the media in order for the achievement of the “One Malaysia”. In this case, the government should invite the media to provide a critism and monitoring of its daily activities which will especially help the citizens to become more enlightened on the plans and activities of the government. If this is implemented, a new Malaysia will be realized (Ahmad, 2005). This is because the Malaysian people will be informed with the media of the daily activities of the government and this will bring some trust into the citizens who will feel that the government works hand in hand with them. This will automatically result to one nation that has the same political views that will ensure that the individuals in the country feel connected to the government of the country.
The media should also show good images and news to the Malaysian citizens and the international countries; this will to some extent ensure that the people living in Malaysia to value peace in their country where the country’s citizens will see that they need to uphold this peace and they will have achieved in quelling their ethnic behaviors, thereby making them resort to being peaceful and more ethical (Zainala, 2010). This will be realized when the media indulges in public relations that will contribute to the government and the people that are living in Malaysia. With this being implemented, the Malaysians will feel more peaceful with each other and in the end they will be able to live freely in the regions without conflicts.
So, with all this background and literature review on this, I would come out with my research questions about how does the media shape messages about “One Malaysia” and also how they can play a more active role in promoting it. Also the “One Malaysia” concept is really new, as it was introduced 3rd April 2009, just two years back. So far, no research has been done to see the feedback about “One Malaysia”. So, I would like to see the situation from the angle of the media.
In my view to attempt this noble approach of our prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak, and the media is the best tool to make it successful to reach all races with different approaches. In order to explore this, I will conduct a study about the roles that the media practitioner can play; at the same time, indirectly, I as a media practitioner will also know what I can do for my country to create a more peaceful and harmonious environment.
I believe the outcome from my research will be very useful to identity what the media practitioner can do to increase the understanding about the “One Malaysia” concept among Malaysians. As one of the media practitioners myself, I can see that some Malaysians still do not really understand what “One Malaysia” is. So, I would like to know, what we (the media practitioners) can do to really reach all Malaysia in order to give a clearer picture about “One Malaysia”.
I will collect data for this study through in-depth interviews with media practitioners in Malaysia and the public in Malaysia, and also content analysis of the news which was written or put on the air by television or radio in Malaysia.
I am going to interview 30 media practitioners from TV stations, radio stations and also the print media which consists of all languages used in Malaysia. In addition, I will interview 10 members of the public in Malaysia which will consist of 4 Malays, 3 Chinese and 3 Indians. So in total, I will be interviewing 40 people for my study.
I am going to interview media practitioners in Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) from TV and radio stations where I am working which is government TV and radio stations (I am still with RTM now and on study leave), as well as from five private radio stations: Mix FM (English), Sinar FM (Malay), THR.fm Raaga (Tamil), MY FM (Chinese) and also IKIM.FM (Malay, English, Arabic). Also 5 TV news editors from two different languages of news from TV3 (private TV station) will be interviewed. I will choose three Malay news editors and two English news editors.
For print media, I will choose three editors from different races which will consist of Malay, Chinese and Indian from The New Straits Times Malaysia (NST), an English newspaper: also the same three races of editor for Utusan Malaysia, a Malay newspaper: two Indian Editors from Malaysian Nanban, a Tamil newspaper and also two Chinese Editors from Sin Chew, a Chinese newspaper.
For RTM TV station, I’m going to interview 5 individuals: one will be our Information, Communications and Culture Minister, Datuk Seri Utama Dr. Rais Yatim (who also leads our government TV station), one Malay news Editor, one English news Editor, one Mandarin news Editor and one Tamil news Editor. I would like to see what are the approaches being used by all different medium of language media practitioners to deliver the message to the public. I would like to know how they will play more active roles in this effort. When I interview the minister, I want to know what the policy maker can do in order to “instruct” the media practitioner to act to benefit the country and to transform the people. For radio stations, I will also interview DJs who speak 5 different languages from different channel in RTM.. I will choose Klasik Nasional FM (Malay), TraXX FM (English), Ai FM (Chinese), Minnal FM (Tamil) and Muzik FM (Malay).
For my study, I will conduct an hour interview with each of the media practitioners in order to get all the information I needed. I will not have any problem to fix an appointment with them because all of them are my professional acquaintances; the only thing, I need to inform them early because they might have tight schedules with their work (as I am a journalist as well, I know about this problem). I will contact them through Facebook, telephone, Skype and e-mail to properly arrange the interview sessions because I really need to plan my time since I have to fly to Malaysia to get data collections and my time is really limited. I would start all this process two months before I fly to make sure all that is planned properly because I need to interview 30 media practitioners. At the same time, I want to make sure there are no obstacles.
I would also like to see the differences of the effort taken by both government and private media station in order to promote “One Malaysia” campaign. In Malaysia, government media station is given more pressure to promote any government campaign or any propaganda. This is totally different with private media station where they can have more freedom of what they want to put in their TV station. I want to see how these two media stations play their roles.
For interviewing the minister, I will call him personally and explain the purpose of my study. I do not need to do all the protocol in order to get him for the interview because we all as editors always directly deal with him regarding anything related to our news. I am sure he will cooperate in this matter because our ministry (Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture) is the ministry directly responsible to promote “One Malaysia”. I know we have done a lot of effort on this matter, and I will be grateful if the minister himself can explain all this, including new efforts initiated by the government which will be put into action through our TV station.
To conduct all the interviews, I will go to their organizations on the fixed date (I will fix the date before I fly from here). I think it is better if I can go to their place because now as a qualitative research student, I learned something about observation, so I want to use these skills as well in my project. I want to see what these organizations have done in their office to promote the”One Malaysia” concept. So one of my data collection methods would be from my observations. In my organization (RTM), when anyone enter to our newsroom, they can see big wallpaper on the glass wall with the picture of our prime minister and Malaysians from different races doing activities together with a big logo of “One Malaysia”. This is one of the ways media can play their role to promote “One Malaysia”. Whenever anyone enters our newsroom, this is the first object they will see which can create awareness of unity in our country. I want to see if other organizations are using the same approach.
I will conduct one-on-one formal interviews with them in their offices without any interruption from anyone. I will record all the interviews and do the transcripts for my study. My interview will be a combination of respondent and narrative interviews in order to obtain some information from my respondents. I choose respondent interview because respondent interview conducted to find out how
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