Selling race and God during GE13: a discourse-historical analysis of editorials and columns in mainstream Malay- and English-language newspapers during the 13th general election in Malaysia

2018-09-18T15:15:35Z (GMT) by Siti Nurnadilla Mohamad Jamil
This thesis conducts a critical analysis of editorials and columns in mainstream newspapers during Malaysia's 13th General Election (GE13) campaign. In a country that practises parliamentary democracy but simultaneously observes a close cooperation (Mustafa, 2010, p. 51) between the ruling party and the mainstream press, this study explores the links between the two. The thesis demonstrates the continuing power of the mainstream press in the country. It also explores how a so-called parliamentary democracy can lead to authoritarian rule, as well as the role of the press in this process. Adhering to Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) principles, the thesis describes and explains how particular relations of power are enacted, reproduced and legitimized within government-owned media, in this case Malaysia where control is institutionalized. This study specifically focuses on the discursive strategies of legitimation in editorials and columns, and how they present particular narratives or arguments in the interests of the powerful. The thesis offers a greater understanding of the deep ideological structures of mainstream newspapers and, in particular, their construction and (de)legitimisation of the government and opposition during the GE13 campaign. This investigation draws on various methods, from quantitative content analysis to the Discourse-historical Approach (DHA), and insights from a range of disciplines, to examine the discursive features of mainstream newspapers discourse during the GE13 campaign. The main contributions of the thesis are on theoretical, methodological and empirical grounds. It contributes to the body of knowledge on political communication research by focusing on the Asian-Malaysian context and moving away from Western-centric models that often overlook the key element of culture. The application of the DHA provides a novel and valuable contribution to the understanding of Malaysian election communication discourse through its interdisciplinary methods and analyses. The empirical investigation provides conclusive evidence that revolves around the issues of the perversion of developmental journalism, race/ethnicity, Islam and its abuses, as well as change and time. This thesis also reviews and reveals the extent to which the press in Malaysia is controlled, dominated and manipulated, thereby challenging those, including the ruling elite, who have claimed that Malaysia is a democratizing nation state.