Government VS Media

Regulation is defined as an act of principle, rule, or law designed to control or govern conduct in a certain organization. Regulations are vital to exist in the mass media association, to ensure a balance and organized manner for the system running. Without it, the whole association would be in catastrophe with disastrous outcomes. In actual fact, regulations made can protect those who work for the media, compromising journalists, television reporters, columnists, broadcasters, producers, etc. However, I think the media scene in Malaysia is more of a form of exploitation by our very own government.

McChesney (2004) professed that “without government intervention, a healthy media system will invariably rise from the rich soil of political freedom. The government and the private media are by nature in conflict.” The incidents of the both Bersih 2.0 and 3.0 rallies would be the obvious example. The news coverage about the rally, published by most of the media, was misleading and dishonest. Most of the media outlets namely The Star, The Sun, Bernama and News Straits Times had headlines, focused more on describing the anti-government rally as “illegal” and how the police acted professionally with minimum force. They, however, did not report how the police shot tear gas into a hospital while chasing protestors with their water cannon (Shukry, 2012).

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Image: Malaysiakini

Regulations are set initially to form boundaries in the media, so as to avoid touching on sensitive issues related to racial lines, sexism, and religion or of subjects that could jeopardize the nation’s security. This matter in question can be directly linked to McChesney’s (2006) expression, which is “whose interests and what values do government communication policies encourage?” Living in a multiracial country, we ought to respect and understand others’ cultural beliefs and difference of religions. Only by having such tolerance, the citizens could lead a contented and peaceful life in a harmony country. Yet, Utusan showed the opposite as when it published a much controversial article with the headline “Apa Lagi Cina Mahu?” (What more do the Chinese want?). The daily was practically blaming the Chinese for the BN’s poor performance in the GE13. (The Malaysian Insider, 2013) It was disrepute for Utusan to come up with such distasteful backlash targeted towards a specific racial group, instead of trying to solve or at least make the matter tranquil. The action done by Utusan was a disgrace and immature, which only will cause more harm than good.

Utusan’s wrap-around front page today.  Image: The Malaysian Insider

McChesney’s further elaborated that due to the “powerful special interests, who repeatedly have done everything in their considerable power to prevent or deflect informed public participation”, the media in a way has to operate under prior restraint. As the media try to be accountable, but still they are compelled to ensure not to publish any news that are deplorable to the government. The local media now are seen much more as a propaganda tool by the government, to influence the community to only see the government in a positive light.

Shukry, A. (2012), “Bersih protesters ‘exemplary’, say international observers”, The Malaysian Insider, Malaysia, accessed 4/11/2015, http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/bersih-protesters-exemplary-say-international-observers

The Malaysian Insider (2013), “‘What more do the Chinese want?’, Utusan Malaysia asks after GE13 vote”, Malaysia, accessed 4/11/2015, http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/what-more-do-the-chinese-want-utusan-malaysia-asks-after-ge13-vote

McChesney, R (2004) ‘The Political Economy of International Communications’ in Thomas, P. N and Nain, Z (eds) Who Owns the Media: Global Trends and Local Resistances Southbound, Penang, pp.3-22.