Chinese Press and Malaysian Politics: Sin Chew Daily and The Malaysian 13th General Election
Scholars studying Malaysian politics often state that the democratic transition of the nation began between the 12th and 13th Malaysian general elections. It was during this period that the dominance of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government led by the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) was heavily challenged by the (now defunct) opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat (PR). As a result, the BN lost their much coveted two-thirds control of Parliament. In response, the BN mobilized their state-owned and/or linked media apparatuses to preserve power in the upcoming the 13th General Elections (GE13). As such, newspapers such as Utusan Malaysia championed the UMNO-Malay agenda and heightened racial issues within multi-ethnic Malaysia while providing space mainly for BN politicians. In contrast, Sin Chew Daily, the largest circulated Chinese ethnic press in Malaysia responded in a different manner by providing space for the political discourses of both the BN and PR. This paper examines how Sin Chew Daily as an ethnic press in Malaysia, responded to State power during the democratic transition period before the Malaysian 13th general election through a quantitative study of news reports from Sin Chew Daily from May 1, 2012 to April 30, 2013, exactly one year before the 13th general elections. The findings show that Sin Chew Daily gave similar quantity of news coverage to both Barisan Nasional (BN) and its leaders and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and its leaders a year before GE13. Most of these news were published in a neutral tone besides majority of the news were published in the rest of the news sections and majority of the picture used were color pictures.
Keywords- democratic transition, Malaysia, 13th General Elections, minority ethnic media, Sin Chew Daily, Chinese press