Posts Tagged ‘education’


Kota Kinabalu: The passing of La Salle Brother Datuk Charles O’Leary once again poses the calling for Sabahans, especially from Tanjung Aru’s La Salle School, to take up the vocation of being a La Salle Order of Teachers Brother.

Bro. Charles’ top regret was no student of Sacred Heart or La Salle schools had the calling, thus far, to pursue what he dedicated as a vocation all his life, although there were Malaysians from other schools who had served under him when he was Principal of La Salle Secondary School like Bro. Yohan and Bro. Justin who was from Tambunan.

He had hinted so to many people, including his students, but none seemed to have had the calling. Fr. Cosmos Lee, one of his students, who eulogised in the homily at the funeral of Bro. Charles, is among the few who became members of the clergy.

Fr. Cosmos Lee said during the funeral Mass: “I am not sure if Bro. Charles would have agreed with the Archbishop asking me to deliver the homily as I was among the few who dared to stand up to him.”

Bro. Charles once jested that if La Salle brothers were allowed to get married, probably there would be more than a few from the La Sallian family who would take up the calling in health and poverty and devote their life to God in the service of education for the young.

He had experienced the church’s trial and tribulation from the Usno era when the work permits of some foreign priests were not renewed and had to leave Sabah to the present challenges posed by extremist elements.

After the fall of the Usno regime, the new Chief Minister of the Berjaya administration Tan Sri Harris Salleh arranged small part of the funding for the construction of the school senior block hall.

Harris also lifted the Usno ban on Chinese cultural activities like unicorn and lion dances, which benefited the school as the renowned La Salle Lion Dance Troupe raised funds from performances for the construction of the school’s senior block canteen first besides others.

In many ways, the fear felt by some complacent and ignorant Sabah civil servants for Harris’ inspection tours during the Berjaya regime was what La Salle School students felt under Bro. Charles’ watchful eyes.

They appeared unreasonable and at times punitively harsh, but that’s what Sabah requires from a leadership perspective to get things done and achieved amid an environment of mediocrity and apathetic attitude, as a saying goes: “Progress depends on the unreasonable man…”

It may be that being the non-populist example of Bro. Charles as an educationist exemplar is too hard to follow for the younger generations. But the challenge is still open for Sabahans to consider the La Salle Order as a life vocation in the service of our youths.

Following are some of the late Bro. Charles’ sayings: “Stars shine and they show the way to safety, security and maturity, and that is the work of teachers whose vocation is to touch and form minds and hearts.

I wanted to be a star with a small ‘s’ no doubt, so that I could and can form and mould young minds and hearts and prepare them for life both here and hereafter.

God has blest me in my life and work and I would not forfeit the peace, satisfaction and fulfilment I have acquired in my calling for anything else that this world might offer. To God be the Glory.” – (Bro. Charles M. O’Leary F.S.C.)

DAILY EXPRESS SABAH

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According to a research conducted by BBC, people often lie about the books they’ve read. The most lied about book is George Orwell’s Ninteen Eighty Four, followed by James Joyce’s Ulysses, Tolstoy’s epic War and Peace and Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s children. I happen to have read Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s children, or at least am in the process – stuck with Ulysses!

According to BBC of the hundred books listed below an average individual would not have read more than six.

Place a mark next to the ones you’ve read.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen #
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien #
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee #
6 The Bible #
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell#
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens #
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller#
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien #
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulkner
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll #
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens #
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini #
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres #
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden #
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell #
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown #
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy #
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth #
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens#
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley#
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie #
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker #
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce(Reading)#
76 The Inferno – Dante#
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom #
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle #
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton #
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad#
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

26 Books! I am better read than an average Briton!

What’s your score?


I have high opinion of Raja Petra Kamarudin aka RPK also called lovingly Pet. See here below what RPK has to say about the NEP BABIES, many having PhDs (Permanent Head Damage and not a doctorate of philosophy), but cannot think critically and logically and worst cannot engage with a person who speaks in English and worst still cannot write a sentence in English without an error. This is the net result of UMNO/BN “Education Policies” which they experimented on the Rakyat over the years. Expensive price we are paying now, so much so, we are even losing out to Indonesia and Thailand and even Cambodia now. We’re strengthening our competitors, we’re weakening ourselves because of all the stupid policies by our UMNO BRAINS. Why do we suffer from this syndrome? Simple, its because we have substituted logic and reason with our coloured perceptions, misguided assumptions, unreasonable emotions, personal biases and political correctness. I say it again, our education system has failed to teach us how to think critically right from our formative years. Our intensive focus on the importance of “QUOTA” has been at the expense of critical thinking skills. For too long, education policy has been the property of UMNO. It is time for us to reclaim this territory.

Hear this part it so funny, but very true what RPK says “Talk to some of the PhD graduates and see what I mean. In our days, in the 1960s, a form five or MCE student was of a higher standard than some of today’s PhD graduates. Some of the so-called Doctors and Professors sound so stupid I sometimes wonder whether they got their degree from the back of a Cornflakes box.”

See here what the man has to say…

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Bernama has declared the Internet as Malaysia’s political battlefield (you can read the article below). Finally, the government has awoken to this reality. It has taken the government sixteen years to realise what I had pointed out way back in 1995.

My first website in 1995 was called ‘Raja Petra’s Homepage’. In this website I published my articles, many of them uncomplimentary to the government and Anwar Ibrahim — who was then the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia.

One article that was published in both Harakah and on my website was about the possibility of Anwar Ibrahim being killed off by Dr Mahathir Mohamad. And I wrote this a couple of years before it actually happened in 1998.

I gave my reasons as to why I said that. Basically, it was because of the people surrounding him (hmm…come to think of it, this has not changed much). I explained that the people surrounding Anwar were getting impatient and they wanted him to take over as Prime Minister immediately.

The problem with this, though, is that Dr Mahathir was still Prime Minister and to do that Anwar would have to oust the old man.

Knowing Dr Mahathir, if you go for his jugular he would turn the hunter into the hunted and hang you upside down by your balls. And, true enough, a couple of years later when Anwar made his move, Dr Mahathir finished him off.

That, amongst the many articles I wrote, was what I said 15 years or so ago back in the days when Anwar was still part of the system and touted as Dr Mahathir’s anointed successor.

Two weeks after I launched Malaysia Today in 2004, the BBC interviewed me about my future plans — seeing that Anwar is now free from jail and he would no longer need a Director of the Free Anwar Campaign. This was on 2nd September 2004, the day Anwar was released from jail.

I told the BCC that it took six long years to free Anwar from jail. And in the fight to free Anwar we launched the Free Anwar Campaign and a website called www.freeanwar.com to conduct an Internet campaign. Now that Anwar is free, I told the BBC, we are launching a Free Malaysia Campaign, which may take longer than six years to see results.

And that is what Malaysia Today is all about, a Free Malaysia Campaign.

“What is the Free Malaysia Campaign?” the BBC asked. My response to that was the Free Malaysia Campaign is a campaign to teach Malaysians how to think, teach Malaysians not to accept just any crap from the government, teach Malaysians to oppose, teach Malaysians to dissent, teach Malaysians to question, and much more.

And we will use Malaysia Today as the platform to teach Malaysians all this, I told the BBC.

In 2007, the government said that the Internet is not a threat. People use the Internet for entertainment and to purchase cheap airline tickets, said the Minister of Information.

After the 2008 general election, the government admitted that they had underestimated the power of the Internet. They also announced that anyone who wants to contest the next election must first have their own website or Blog. If you are not Internet-savvy you will not get selected to contest the elections.

Just to digress a bit, Pakatan Rakyat has been the state government for more than three years and the next general election will soon be upon us. However, Selangor is yet to complete its state-wide free wireless Internet project.

Penang has made better progress although there are still some parts of the state where the free wireless Internet is still unavailable. But at least Penang is far ahead of Selangor. In view of the pervasive influence of the Internet, why is the Selangor government yet to show results in its state-wide free wireless Internet project? Are there moles from within who are deliberately sabotaging the project so that the state can go back to UMNO?

I am worried that Pakatan Rakyat Selangor may face a tough election so we need every little bit of help we can get. And the Internet would be the best and most powerful weapon we can use. Even Umno admits this. So why are we still sleeping?

Let’s be clear about one thing. Selangor is the jewel in the crown. And if Selangor falls into Umno’s hands you are NEVER going to get it back again. NEVER! So you better protect Selangor. And one way would be to exploit the Internet to the fullest.

Anyway, I must admit that there are some good pro-government or pro-Umno sites. Some of those postings are even published here in Malaysia Today. But the majority of pro-government or pro-Umno sites are pure crap. All they do is spit and curse (ludah dan maki-hamun).

I myself am the target of much of this spitting and cursing. They don’t know how to respond to what we say so they respond by cursing. That is the best and only thing they can do.

That is the problem the government faces. While we in the opposition are doing this for the love of the cause, those government-employed ‘Bloggers’ are doing it for money. They are being paid to counter what the opposition Bloggers are saying.

Many opposition Bloggers are very intelligent, highly educated, well-read, articulate, and so on. The government-paid Bloggers, however, are mostly unemployed people.

These people may have gone to school, maybe even to university. But they are not good enough to get a job. No one will employ them even as dogcatchers. So the government employs these unemployed and unemployable people as Umno Cyber Troopers.

And that is why they lack class and quality. You can see from their postings that many of them are Malays. And this makes sense because Malay graduates face a problem of getting employment — mainly because of the poor quality education they have received.

Talk to some of the PhD graduates and see what I mean. In our days, in the 1960s, a form five or MCE student was of a higher standard than some of today’s PhD graduates. Some of the so-called Doctors and Professors sound so stupid I sometimes wonder whether they got their degree from the back of a Cornflakes box.

See The Rest Here



Harvard University

Harvard has been ranked as the top university in the world for the sixth consecutive year, while none of the Malaysian universities figure in the latest edition of The Times Higher Education, world reputation ranking report. The United States dominates the rankings of 200 world class universities.

National University of Singapore is 27 in the world ranking. Even Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University made it in the top 100.

It is no surprise Malaysia is sliding real fast as it is not able to cling on to a placing in the world list and it looks like it has disappeared into competitive oblivion. What happen to the Primier Najib’s call for an “education revolution”? What happen to the call for higher education in Malaysia to achieve world class status and establish the country as a regional centre of excellence in education? Is it just “cakap ta serupa bikin”? As long as UMNO government does not liberate our universities from the culture of mediocrity and our students are not given academic freedom and student idealism, we are not going to see any improvement in the rankings. Maybe we are just “jaguh kampong” and we are pretty satisified with that.

Between 2004 and 2009, Universiti of Malaya figured in the global list of 200 institutes but have slipped out in the new scoring system.

However, University of Malaya (UM) and Universiti Putra Malaysia do figure in the top 100 Asian Universities. But our Apex University, University Sains Malaysia (USM) is no where in the list. Shame on you USM, so much money has been spent and nothing out of it.

Now I know why even our own Minister of Education and also many other Ministers sent their children to foreign universities, obviously, they themselves don’t have confidence in our education system.

Anyway, Cambridge has been named as the most highly regarded universities in the world, while Oxford among the United Kingdom’s came third in a table that ranked universities exclusively on the basis of “academics” worldwide.

Seven of the United States universities figured in the top 10, followed by the United Kingdom making Japan the only country whose university found a place in the rankings as Tokyo University was placed eighth.

Overall, the U.S. had 45 universities in the top 100, while the U.K. had 12 and Japan had five. These three nations were the best represented in the rankings. Canada, Australia, Germany and the Netherlands had four universities each in the top 100.

According to Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2010-2011, Harvard University ranking at the top had an overall score of 96.1, California Institute of Technology that occupied the second slot had 96 points followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Stanford University was adjudged the fourth best institution and Princeton University, the fifth.

Although this is the seventh year that the global rankings have been announced, but the exercise undertaken for 2010-2011 adopted a methodology which included 13 criteria for judging. This was done to avoid the criticism that the ranking was primarily based on perception.

The ranking was done based on the points scored for teaching, research, citation, innovation and international mix of students and teachers.


The Pulau Batu Puteh Predicament: A Preliminary Study of Malaysian Media Coverage

Azliana Abdul Aziz, Vilashini Somiah, Azizah Hamzah

& Mohd Yahya Mohamed Ariffin

Abstract

The media plays a very significant role in keeping diplomatic ties between countries strong. The media is strongly responsible for covering issues as ethically and as unbiased as possible in order to deliver the news right. In May of 2008, the International Court of Justice had ruled that Singapore would be given sovereignty over Pulau Batu Puteh (also known in English as Pedra Branca), ending the 28-year old territorial dispute between Malaysia and Singapore over the isle no larger than half a football field. Though the verdict brought about much mixed reactions from both parties, this research will only focus on the Malaysian news coverage given on the issue. The methodology for this research will be a qualitative one, in which the researchers will conduct interviews with relevant parties as well as evaluate random sampling of news materials that focused on the Pulau Batu Puteh incident in 2008. The researchers also aim to investigate how mediated political issues are presented and how it can affect its readers from Malaysia and Singapore alike.

Key words: Malaysia-Singapore news, political communication, Pulau Batu Puteh

Introduction

The issue of sovereignty over Pedra Branca or Pulau Batu Puteh (literally meaning ‘White Rock’), an island with an area of about 8,560 square metres, between Malaysia and Singapore, crystallized on 14th February 1980. The issue of sovereignty was brought to attention when Singapore protested against the publication in 1979 by Malaysia of a map depicting the island as lying within Malaysia’s territorial waters. 13 years later, on the 6th February 1993 it was followed up by the dispute as to sovereignty over Middle Rocks and South Ledge. This dispute was then brought to the International Court of Justice (The ICJ) to be settled. The only form of development found on this island located between the Singapore Straits and South China Sea is the Horsburgh Lighthouse, built by the British somewhere between 1850 and 1851 without seeking consent from any party as Malaya was under ruling of the British.

Both countries made endless efforts to stake their claim over Pulau Batu Puteh. Ralph Haller-Trost (1993) wrote in his book Historical legal claims: a study of disputed sovereignty over Pulau Batu Puteh (Pedra Branca), that Malaysia had historically tried to prove that the island belonged to them for almost 400 years.

Pulau Batu Puteh and Middle Rocks

Source: http://www.thestar.com.my

Malaysia argued that the Sultan of Johore had exercised sovereignty over the rock since 1513 when the Johore-Riau-Lingga Sultanate was founded by Sultan Mahmud…According to the Malaysian view, based on the Theory of State Succession, Pulau Batu Puteh belongs to the Federation of Malaysia because it was part of the Federation of Malaya into which in turn the sultanate of Johore was amalgamated when it joined the newly formed independent state in 1957” (Haller-Trost, 1993).

However, Singapore claimed that the presence of the Horsburgh Lighthouse, built by the British, was enough to prove that the island belonged to them. Singapore was entitled to inherit everything that was left behind after independence.

Singapore on the other hand, maintains that it has full territorial sovereignty and jurisdiction over the rock due to the Anglo-Dutch Treaty, and of the HEIC (Honourable East India Company) whose legal successor Singapore is-had built a lighthouse thereon and maintained it since 1851. No government authority (neither Johore nor Malaysia) had up to 1979 objected against this status, or had made any claim to the contrary. It therefore considers the rock being legally part of its territory” (Haller-Trost, 1993).

On the 23rd of May 2008, after a 29-year territorial dispute, the ICJ ruled that Pedra Branca was under Singapore’s sovereignty. In the official press release by the ICJ handed out on the very same day, it was mentioned “The Court finds that Singapore has sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh; that Malaysia has sovereignty over Middle Rocks; and that sovereignty over South Ledge belongs to the State in the territorial waters of which it is located.” (cite ICJ press release) The ruling in which decides the exact sovereignty of South Ledge has yet to be resolved.

The ICJ went on to explain that the reason for their decision was based on the fact that “Malaysia did not respond to Singapore’s conduct on the island, including the flying of its ensign, except for the republic’s installation of naval communication equipment”. (Site the star three reasons why island went to sing). The ICJ also pointed out that the Johor authorities and their successors took no action at all on the island beginning June 1850 for the whole of the following century onwards.

Distance from Pulau Batu Puteh and Singapore and Malaysia respectively

Source: http://www.malaysiakini.com

Objective of study

This paper looks into the coverage given by the Malaysian press on the debate over the sovereignty of Pulau Batu Puteh/ Pedra Branca and its subsequent referral to the ICJ, focusing more so on written articles either printed or online. The reporting was inspected for the utilisation of the media for diplomatic or political motive, seeing as the long-standing territorial dispute offered a prime opportunity to employ the media as a political or diplomatic instrument on top of its original role of informing the public.

Theoretical Framework

In undergoing this research two forms of communication were mainly utilised in the analysis of the Malaysian media coverage concerning the dispute. The first of which, being that of mediated political communication and secondly the form of mediated diplomatic communication or media diplomacy (Gilboa, 2002). All the articles looked into during the course of this research were scrutinised for evidence of media diplomacy, the extent of its usage and what it entails.

Firstly, the characteristics of political communication is defined in terms of the intentions of its senders (McNair, 2003)

The crucial factor that makes communication ‘political’ is not the source of a message [or we might add referring back to their earlier emphasis on ‘public discussion’, its form] but its content and purpose” (Denton & Woodward, 1990)

McNair (2003) also establishes that a democratic media is needed in order to achieve objectivity in mediated political discourse. A democratic media must inform, educate on the significance or meaning of the facts, provide a platform for public discourse for ‘public opinion’ to emerge and later generate that opinion back to the public, who should be made available to information regarding those in power (the acts of whoever in supreme power made available for public scrutiny) and finally serve as a channel for the advocacy of political viewpoints.

Mediated political communications have of late, grown vastly in importance and poses as a substantial influencing medium towards public opinion. Seemingly it is the precise fact that opinions form the core of political communications that presents problems in objectivity (Bennet & Entman, 2001). However, from surveys held through audience analysis, it may be concluded that though broadcast coverage may contribute in a small way towards viewers’ preference of political candidates, it is the level of knowledge and personal interest in politics that an individual has, that ultimately governs his/her opinions (Traudt, 2005).

This brings us to the question of objectivity. Though it is often debated that complete objectivity could be something of an impossible task, as more often than not a writer’s personality or views will unconsciously be reflected within the written script, the attempt at writing objectively, putting forth facts without favouring a certain side of an argument or ellipsing information to elicit mediation, is still a task that many journalists strive to undertake. The result, is an, if not completely objective report, a report which endeavours to put forth uncensored factual information.

Journalism in Malaysia and Singapore has always been conceived to be restricted, and this year, they have held very close positions in the freedom of press rankings. In the eyes of the world, press freedom for both countries is seen as controlled and constricting. Ranking at number 143 and 145 respectively, out of 195 countries in the 2009 Freedom of Press World Ranking (Freedom House) with the bottom 64 countries, considered as having no press freedom, it is an obvious conclusion that the rest of the world views the freedom of press for both countries as severely lacking. This is a result of the legal boundaries upon both nations’ media, and these same boundaries can be seen most diligently observed in political reporting.

An alternative to the mainstream media is through the medium of new media, such as political blogs and online news groups. For Malaysia, this has proved to be promising, as recent findings from a Freedom House survey that charted the online freedom of fifteen selected countries, stated that Malaysian online freedom is ‘partly-free’ obtaining a moderate rating of 40 with a rating of 0 being completely free and 100 being not free (Freedom House).

Eytan Gilboa (2002), in the article Global Communication and Foreign Policy, has devised a table to illustrate the four different types of actors, called the ‘Taxonomy of Actors and Concepts’.

Source: Gilboa, 2002

Here, Gilboa formulised a systematic approach to analysing global communication by breaking it up into different categories of actors and its specific role. In completing this research, Gilboa’s theories were adopted and transplanted to cover the geographically smaller context of Malaysia and Singapore. With the Malaysian media, due to the constraints of the law, it is not possible for the mainstream to adopt the role of the controlling actor, where the media acts independently and has the power to swing public opinion and pressure government into acting as they believe fit (Gilboa, 2002). Online media may have the freedom to mildly tread in those waters but they do not command as much public attention as does the mainstream. In the case of Pulau Batu Puteh, the media generally emulated the role of the instrumental actor, following the concept of media diplomacy (Gilboa, 2002).

Media diplomacy has been defined as the ‘uses of the media by leaders to express interest in negotiation, to build confidence and to mobilise public support for agreements’ (Gilboa, 2002). In the press coverage of Pulau Batu Puteh, most if not all of the information broadcast had been received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or during press conferences at negotiations between the two countries. There were even articles published in the newspapers written by the diplomatic players themselves. Most notably, one that was written by the then Minister of Foreign Affairs himself, Dato’ Seri Utama Dr.Rais Yatim (2008).

Research findings

In order to go deeper into the reporting from both the mainstream media and its new media counterpart, an interview was conducted with a sample practitioner of citizen journalism and the Media Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who was virtually the gatekeeper for all that was reported in the mainstream media. As mentioned earlier, most of the work was carried out on written articles as this is only a research paper, and it would prove to be an insufficient vehicle if all other forms of broadcast were to be incorporated instead of conducting only textual analysis.

Coverage on the long-standing dispute was extensive, and in the days leading up to the verdict, there was at least one article per day regarding the situation. However the vast majority of what was reported from each of the big four newspapers in Malaysia, New Straits Times (NST), The Star, Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian, was mainly reiterated facts drummed in again and again and did not vary by way of content from one news desk to the next. This in turn, led to the conclusion that information from all was obtained from only one source.

The mainstream media was also an instrumental tool in promoting relations between the two countries by giving exposure on the negotiations between both countries and the joint committee put together prior to the verdict to facilitate negotiations once the right to sovereignty was concluded. To assist in the research, articles on the event were divided into three sections. The first covers the period before the verdict, the second nearing the date of the verdict and the deliberations by ICJ and the third covering the post-hearing period. Press interest was at its height in the second section with coverage of the first and third on a somewhat equal status.

A pattern swiftly emerged upon the division of the articles. It was noted that the tone or morale of the information extended was significantly more positive and confident during the first period with article titles claiming ‘Rais confident of positive verdict over Batu Puteh’ and ‘Verdict over Pulau Batu Puteh will be in our favour’. Nearing the verdict however, a more tentative approach was adopted, where reports were published on negotiations and the establishment of a joint committee between the two countries to handle all actions pertaining to the territory in question (Zakaria Abdul Wahab, Singapore, Malaysia Will Accept Any Decision On Pulau Batu Puteh By ICJ – George Yeo, 2008) (Batu Putih: Malaysia – Singapura tubuh jawatankuasa bersama, 2008). Immediately after the verdict however, there was an attempt to draw focus to the fact that Malaysia had soverignty of Middle Rocks whilst downplaying the loss of Pulau Batu Puteh, by claiming it to be a win-win situation (Rais: Decision on island is a win-win situation, 2008) and rallying public support by suggesting expanditure of said island (New Dimension to Middle Rocks, 2008).

When asked as to the nature of the pattern and whether or not it was a deliberate diplomatic tactic, Edward Jules Savarimuthu, Media Secretary to the Foreign Minister of Malaysia and Media Strategist for the Pulau Batu Puteh case, claimed that, “There was no deliberate strategy that was tabled to preserve the good relations with our contesting neighbour back then. It just came out directy from the stove as fast as it was cooked, in reference to the media strategy” however he also acknowledged that, “we [Malaysia] came mid-stream when the case was already upstream, so much of what went around came in various level of deflection or rather deception. It was purely a case of “if you can’t convince them, confuse them“” in reference to deflecting negative press in the aftermath of the hearing (Savarimuthu, 2009).

However following the verdict, there was a brief period before the press continued its role in media diplomacy in early June, where criticism of the government’s administration of the case was broadcast to the public. These articles attributed the loss to the negligence of the Malaysian government and the Johor State in the past. The more condemning of these articles were those that appeared online, claiming Malaysia was lackadaisical in exercising their rights (Savarimuthu, 2009). These examples show evidence of the Malaysian media’s ability to take on the role of ‘constraining actor’, where “global news coverage may disrupt the routine policy making process … and whereas leaders may have to reorder priorities, they don’t feel forced to follow a particular policy called for by the media or implied by coverage” (Gilboa, 2002). In this case it merely means that the Malaysian media, primarily new media, is able to influence in some way the future conduct of its government. The advantage of online news as an advocate of the role of ‘constraining actor’ lies in its swiftness as “global communication constrains the policy process primarily through the high speed of broadcasting and transmitting information” (Gilboa, 2002).

At times though, the online news channels are considered to be a threat to national peace since it can cast doubts on the integrity and reliability of its personnel and those in high office” (Savarimuthu, 2009) in the instance of the Pulau Batu Puteh incident however, this can be considered to be a moot point as there was very little information on the case made public to explain the loss of the island. “Malaysia did not handle the case as per expected. Singapore had, from the start, the expertise and documents that Malaysia did not have. Had we known this from the media, we would have been able to understand better” (Somiah, 2009).

Conclusion

Regarding the issue, and its subsequent media attention, it can be concluded that the role of the Malaysian media was predominantly, through ‘media diplomacy’ with a brief vignette as the ‘constraining actor’ played mostly via new media. In order for the Malaysian media both mainstream and otherwise to grow to encompass both controlling and constraining actor roles, the tightly drawn strings of the law must first be loosened. However, this begets a whole slew of debates and diatribes from the two camps, those who believe the country is ready and those who deem it still immature.

In reference to the ‘media diplomacy’ portrayed during the Pulau Batu Puteh predicament, from the articles collected, in depth information regarding the islet, especially historical facts prior to the year 1979, which held most of the damning evidence that lead to the loss was not made public. Though it can be argued that the information was highly classified as it was still an ongoing court hearing, (Savarimuthu, 2009) the information was still kept under wraps after the hearing was over, and the allusions to the 1953 letter from the Johor Sultanate mirrors the instances when the media or political figures referr to the May 13 incident. An occurance everybody knows about but few know what it really is. In this respect, both interviewees agreed on one point that “there is a very thin line between diplomacy and hypocrisy” (Savarimuthu, 2009)

There is a very grey area between keeping the information on a need-to-know basis and deliberately withholding intelligence from the public. For the media to practice diplomatic communication successfully and still adhere to the journalistic codes, it is imperative that the truth and abundance of information is never discounted. At the end of it all, “the media is responsible for telling the truth and truth should not be hindered at the expense of diplomacy. By telling us the truth, the media will be able to help us realise our faults and this is beneficial in the long run” (Somiah, 2009).

Bibliography

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Gilboa, E. (2002). Global Communication and Foreign Policy. (M. Cody, Ed.) Journal of Communication , 52 (4), 731-744.

Haller-Trost, R. (1993). Historical legal claims: a study of disputed sovereignty over Pulau Batu Puteh (Pedra Branca) (Vol. 1). Durham, United Kingdom: International Boundaries Research Unit.

Hassan, M. S., & Rahman, S. N. (2008). International Media News Coverage on Malaysia’s General Election in 1995 and 1999. (M. N. Osman, S. Z. Omar, H. Hassan, & N. Ismail, Eds.) Dimensions of Communication Malaysian Experience , 69-91.

McNair, B. (2003). An Introduction to Political Communication. London, England: Routledge.

Ming Ting. (2008). Singapore-Malaysia Relations: Beyond Realism. Australian Political Studies Association Conference. Brisbane: University of Adelaide.

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Traudt, P. J. (2005). Media, Audiences Effects. Las Vegas: University of Nevada.

(2002, October 14). Asian Economic News , p. 19.

Newspaper References

(2003, May 5). New Straits Times , p. 22.

Batu Puteh berpihak kepada kita. (2008, May 16). Utusan Malaysia , p. 2.

Batu Puteh kembali kepada pemilik. (2008, May 23). Berita Harian , p. 10.

Batu Putih: Keputusan hari ini. (2008, May 23). Utusan Malaysia , pp. 1-2.

Batu Putih: Malaysia – Singapura tubuh jawatankuasa bersama. (2008, May 22). Utusan Malaysia , p. 1.

Batuan Tengah mungkin dicantumkan. (2008, June 3). Utusan Malaysia , pp. 1-2.

Cabinet approval needed. (2008, June 4). The Star .

Choi, T. W. (2008, May 22). Close call likely in ICJ verdict. The Star .

D-Day in fight for Batu Puteh. (2008, May 22). The Star , p. 10.

First meeting after Batu Puteh verdict. (2008, June 4). The Star , p. 12.

Keputusan Batu Putih Esok. (2008, May 22). Utusan Malaysia , p. 2.

New Dimension to Middle Rocks. (2008, June 4). New Straits Times .

Rais confident of positive verdict over Batu Puteh. (2008, May 16). The Star , p. 38.

Rais wants all islands noted. (2008, May 29). The Star , p. 16.

Rais Yatim. (2008, May 15). Pulau Batu Puteh: Past, present and future. New Straits Times , p. 24.

Rais: Verdict over Pulau Batu Puteh will be in our favour. (2008, May 16). New Straits Times .

Ridzam, D. (2008, May 29). Taking heed of the lesson bitterly learnt. New Straits Times , p. 22.

Tay, G. (2008, May 23). Long wait for verdict on island. The Star , p. 24.

Zulkifli Jalil. (2008, April 17). Keputusan P. Batu Putih bulan depan? Utusan Malaysia , p. 13.

Online References

AFP. (2008, April 30). Keputusan batu Putih. Retrieved December 2, 2009, from Utusan Online: http://www.utusanonline.com.my

Bernama. (2008, May 5). Rais to have audience with Johor Sultan over Pulau Batu Puteh. Retrieved December 2, 2009, from Bernama: http://www.bernama.com

Freedom House. (n.d.). Freedom of the Press 2009: Table of Global Press Freedom Rankings. Retrieved December 2, 2009, from freedomhouse.org: http://www.freedomhouse.org/uploads/fop/2009/FreedomofthePress2009_tables.pdf

Press Release: Sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge. (2008, May 23). Retrieved December 2, 2009, from International Court of Justice: http://www.icj-cij.org

Rais: Decision on island is a win-win situation. (2008, May 24). Retrieved December 2, 2009, from The Star Online`: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/5/24/nation/21355872&sec=nation

Singapore takes Pulau Batu Puteh, Malaysia gets Middle Rocks. (2008, May 23). Retrieved December 2, 2009, from The Star Online: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/5/23/nation/20080523184425&sec=nation

Three reasons why island went to Singapore. (2008, May 24). Retrieved December 2, 2009, from The Star Online: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/5/24/nation/21354853&sec=nation

Zakaria Abdul Wahab. (2008, April 17). Singapore, Malaysia Will Accept Any Decision On Pulau Batu Puteh By ICJ – George Yeo. Retrieved December 2, 2009, from Bernama: http://www.bernama.com

Zakaria Abdul Wahab. (2008, April 17). Singapura dan Malaysia Terima Apa Jua Keputusan Mengenai Pulau Batu Puteh Oleh ICJ. Retrieved December 2, 2009, from Bernama: http://www.bernama.com

Interviews

Savarimuthu, E. J. (2009, December 3). Interview with the Media Secretary to the former Foreign Minister of Malaysia- Honourable Minister Datuk Seri Utama Dr.Rais Yatim . (A. Aziz, Interviewer)

Somiah, S. (2009, December 3). Interview with citizen journalism practitioner. (A. Aziz, Interviewer)


In case you guys forgot, Malaysia was formed on Sept 16, 1963 and Malaysia is only 46 years old today and not 52 years old as told. What a shame, they NEVER told us this in school. Our ‘official’ history is riddled with prejudice, inconsistencies and huge knowledge gaps, so much so that there was a time when school textbooks made no mention of September 16th as Malaysia Day.

I would love Malaysia to be independent as per the wishes or vision of Lee Kuan Yue @ Uncle Harry Lee…..but somehow still I am not convinced about the Independence Day…….and celebration.

See here our Harris Ibrahim’s initiative on Anak Bangsa Malaysia, which is long overdue. Also see here.

Happy Malaysia Day to all my comrades and fellow citizens in Malaysia.

Happy Birthday, Malaysia!!!



The 60 billion stimulus package unveiled by Najib Tun Razak our Minister of Finance and Prime Minister in waiting has some goodies for our students pursuing Master’s programme locally and our students pursuing PhD locally.

According to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, the government would finance tuition fees and research grants up to RM20,000 for every student pursuing a PhD locally and RM10,000 for students pursuing a Master’s programme.

It seems, a total of 500 places at PhD level and 10,000 at Masters level in public universities as well as at Universiti Tenaga Nasional, Multimedia University and Universiti Teknologi Petronas will be offered, according to Najib.

So guys, do take good advantage of this and don’t miss the boat.