Altantuya Shariibuu murder: Reports from Utusan Melayu and BBC News

Written by Anis Adrina

About more than 11 years ago, the whole Malaysia were shocked by a high profile murder case, when Altantuya Shariibuu, 28 years old, who worked as translator was killed during night on 19th October in the year 2006 by two Malaysian police officers in cruel way.

This case has been discussed many times by many media either Malaysian media or international media. This article would compare the reporting of this case by one Malaysia local news agency and one international news agency which is Utusan Online and BBC news.

Utusan Online reporting

For Utusan Online, their agenda was to project that there is no involvement of high profile Malaysia officials in this case such as the headlines such as “Tidak perlu siasatan baharu kes Altantuya” published on 4th April 2015) and “Demi Allah, Najib tidak terlibat – Sirul Azhar “(published on 31st January 2016).

By writing such headlines, they will attract the readers to read the full article and indirectly will form the readers’ perception and influence their thinking towards the case.

The news writings in Utusan Online included facts of the issue to strengthen the news reporting as well as chronology of the issue to make the reader recall the event. For example, the news with headline, “Azilah, Sirul Azhar dihukum gantung” (published on 14th January 2015) included 12 points of summary of court judgment for the murder case.

The news agency also used one sided messages of propaganda to reinforce an already held position. In the report with the headline of “Tidak perlu siasatan baharu kes Altantuya” (published on 4th April 2015), the Utusan Online only used one sided message which is highlighting the fact that the case need not to have re-investigation process as there is no new evidence or statement which can raise doubts.

BBC News reporting

BBC News also has always tried to be objective in delivering the news yet it implemented the elements of sensationalism in the headlines. It is believed that the sensationalism elements could attract more people to read about the news. The example of sensational headlines are “Top Malaysian murder trial open” (published on 18th June 2007) and “Policemen to die in Malaysian case” (published on 9 April 2009) which would catch readers’ attention by just reading the headline.

BBC News is more open and free in reporting from different perspective compared to local media. This agency covered the news angle that will not likely to be covered in local media. For example, the news with headline, “Malaysian blogger boycotts trial” (published on 23rd April 2009) which was about a blogger who was charged under Sedition Act for an article he published which linked current Prime Minister Najib Razak to the 2006 murder of a Mongolian woman, Altantuya Shaariibuu. He did not attend court trial as he believed he would not receive a fair trial and so would go into “self-exile”. Story like this, would less likely to be covered in mainstream media.

As BBC News is not local media and not related to any political affiliation in Malaysia, thus, the news reporting of this issue is mainly objective and direct. The agency used two sided message with included both sides perspectives. For example, in an article “Malaysia officers’ Mongolia model death sentences upheld” (published on 13th January 2015), firstly, BBC News wrote one side of perspective which is the case has “dogged Prime Minister Najib Razak – deputy prime minister at the time of the murder – who has been accused of interfering with the investigation and the opposition has sought to link him to the case”.

BBC News later added another side of perspective which was “but Mr Najib has repeatedly said that he had nothing to do with it and never met Ms Shaariibuu. “ Thus, with this two side of perspective were included in the news, it made the reporting to be fair and objective as well as non-bias.

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