The Mainstream Media

In Malaysia, the media are restricted and controlled through the ownership of the media house. Mainstream mass media in Malaysia operates under the control of the ruling parties. News Straits Time Press (NSTP), Utusan Malaysia is linked to United Malays National Organisation (UMNO)’s affiliate, while The Star, Sin Chew Jit Poh and Nanyang Siang Pau belongs to Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA). In the other hand, Tamil Nesan and Malaysia Nanban belongs to the affiliates of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC).

Image source : Free Malaysia Today

Meanwhile, the biggest media conglomerate in Malaysia, Media Prima Group associated to the UMNO affiliate owns TV3, NTV7, 8TV, TV9 and even owns the NSTP Group. This has shown that, majority of the mainstream media and private are controlled by the ruling coalition. Therefore the heads of the entities and their editors jump to attention at the sound of their masters’ voices (Kee, 2013).

Taking an example of the 13th General Election saga, the government, which by mean is the Barisan Nasional government offered a 10 minutes airtime on the Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) for the opposition to present its election manifesto to the public. In the other situation, the ruling coalition has been given an ample time of 24-7-356 to access the media.

Criticism on the Mainstream Media

Mainstream media in Malaysia are seen as biased, partisan and unfair in their reporting. Facts would be twisted to hide any insidious agenda or even to aggravate the opponents. The role of news media is seen as reporting good news about government leaders and cooperation between races, while promoting a single national identity” (Sani 2005).

Meanwhile in printed media, the presses are continuously restrained by the Printing, Presses and Publication Act (PPPA). The home minister holds the power to approve or revoke the printing permits which narrowed down the chance of the opposition to have its own media organization when the mainstream media has restrained them from participating though.

“It mainstream media fails to give the whole truth by choosing not to report certain events, it is a guilty of dereliction of duty. Worse, if it resorts to spinning the truth in order to make the Government look good, it transgresses the cardinal principles of journalism, which not only journalist but everyone should hold”, Kee Thuan Chye.

Kee Thuan Chye, is a journalist currently writing for a political column in Yahoo! Malaysia and MSN Malaysia.
 There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and shame the devil – Walter Lippmann, American public intellectual writer, reporter, and political commenter. 


Sani, Mohd Aizuddin Mohd. (2005). Media Freedom in Malaysia. Journal of Contemporary Asia

Kee, T. C. (2013). The Election Bullshit. Petaling Jaya: Strategic Information and Research Development Centre (SIRD).

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