© Media Watch 6 (3) 296-308, 2015
ISSN 0976-0911 e-ISSN 2249-8818
Liberalisation of the Malaysian Media and Politics: New Media, Strategies and Contestations
LEE YUEN BENG & MAHYUDDIN AHMAD
University Sains Malaysia, Malaysia
On 28 April 2012, ‘Bersih 3.0’, a rally calling for freer and fairer elections estimated that 250, 000 people gathered to support its cause. Government controlled newspapers the New Straits Times and Utusan Malaysia accused this rally attended by 20, 000 demonstrators as a plot to destabilise and overthrow the ruling coalition through chaos and disorder. Online news portals Malaysiakini and Malaysian Insider however reported that the rally attended by 150,000 demonstrators began peacefully but ended chaotically as demonstrators, journalists and police personnel were attacked and manhandled. While the conflicting reports of Bersih 3.0 and other news reports unpublished by the state controlled media through the new media suggests political dissent and possible media liberalisation, it does not necessarily mean that press freedom is well and alive. It however marks the beginning of a larger movement in cyberspace that threatens the hegemony of the ruling coalition. This paper examines the proliferation of the new media within the political economic structure of the Malaysian society and media; selected representations and messages in the old and new media; and whether the strategies and if representations in the new media are counter hegemonic tools capable of creating space for diverse voices, dissent and transformation.
Keywords: New media, internet, political economy, civil society, counter-hegemony.
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Dr Lee Yuen Beng is a senior lecturer at the School of Communication, Universiti Sains Malaysia. His research interests are in Yasmin Ahmad films, horror cinema, and the cinema and media of Malaysia.
Dr Mahyuddin Ahmad is a senior lecturer at the School of Communication, Universiti Sains Malaysia. His research interests are in P. Ramlee films, and the cinema and media of Malaysia.