My paper with Dr. Chin Yee Mun, Chairman of Tun Tan Cheng Lock Centre for Social and Policy Studies, is featured in this Volume 24 of the Journal of Malaysian Chinese Studies.
The Malaysian government’s move to introduce Jawi-Khat in the Malay Language curriculum in Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools has been met with much tension and controversy. Being the second largest ethnic group in the country, the Chinese Malaysians’ response to this initiative, to some extent, has generated implications to the socio-political order of this country. In general, they have reacted negatively to the initiative, but their opposition to the move was quick to draw displeasure from members of the Malay community, who mostly supported it. Sin Chew Daily – the first newspaper to break the news – was also accused of stirring fears among the Chinese community. Such an accusation and the manner in which the whole Jawi-Khat move unfolded have raised questions over the roles of the Chinese newspapers, in reporting a policy that impacts on an area concerning the Chinese community the most – Chinese education. Thus, this study sets out to examine the ways in which three leading Chinese newspapers in Malaysia, namely, Sin Chew Daily, China Press and See Hua Daily News, reported on this racially-sensitive issue. The news sources, news frames and valence of the reports were analysed. The research findings reveal that the Chinese newspapers were merely performing their role as a platform for discourse on an issue considered to be vital to the Chinese community in the country. The Chinese newspapers were also law-abiding, created room for disagreement and attempted to de-escalate the Chinese community’s dissatisfaction over the Jawi-Khat issue.
The journal is available in hardcopy. More information about it can be found here.
This is the second part of the “Jawi-Khat project” I took on in year 2019.
In a year of COVID-19 where many industries have been disrupted, borders remain closed and where a lot of time is spent staying at home, what else to do than focus on work and write some papers, right? Hahaha! I apologise for the lack of the usual content on this blog – when things get back to normal, I promise to write more on leisure- and Thailand-related entries.
Anyway, an academic article I have been working on for sometime, related to Malaysia’s controversial move to introduce the Jawi calligraphy (or Khat) in the vernacular schools, finally came out today in UKM’s Jurnal Komunikasi: Malaysian Journal of Communication. I’m putting it up here just in case you’re keen to read it.
The Malaysian government’s move to introduce Jawi-Khat in the Malay-language curriculum in Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools has been fraught with tension and opposition, especially among the Chinese Malaysian community. Being the second-largest ethnic group in Malaysia, the Chinese’s negative response to the initiative has generated some implications for the country’s socio-political order. Sin Chew Daily, the first newspaper to break the news, was accused by then Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng of stirring fears among the Chinese community. Lim’s condemnation of the Chinese daily and the manner in which the whole Jawi-Khat episode played out have raised questions over the roles of Chinese newspapers vis-à-vis their counterparts of other languages in the reportage of the Jawi-Khat move. Thus, a study on the ways three top vernacular-language newspapers in Malaysia, namely, Sin Chew Daily, The Star and Harian Metro, covered this issue, was conducted. The extent of news coverage, news sources, news frames and valence of the reports were analysed. The research findings reveal that each of the newspapers framed the Jawi-Khat controversy differently. Sin Chew remains a classic ethnic newspaper, having reported extensively on the issue and actively pursued the voice of opposition of various stakeholder groups towards a policy that impacts on Chinese education, a key area vital to the Chinese community. Otherwise, the three newspapers have, to varying degrees, performed the interpretive function within a controlled media landscape and attempted to de-escalate conflicts and misunderstanding arising from the Jawi-Khat move.
Keywords: Jawi-Khat, media framing, vernacular newspapers, newspaper roles, ethnic relations.
I’m Ken, a passionate traveller from Sarawak on the exotic island of Borneo. Currently a teacher in a rural town in Southern Thailand, from time to time I share on this blog my experiences teaching the kids and living a laid-back lifestyle here. With its focus on all things Thailand, mrdefinite.net also features a handful of stories about my travel adventures in other Asian countries.