Written by Ahmad Mubin Rasydan
Background of the Issue
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) began as 12-countries partnership to lower both non-tariff and tariff barriers to trade, and establish an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism. Its members consist of Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the United States, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Chile and New Zealand. They represent roughly 40% of the world’s economic output. However, on 23rd January 2017, President Trump signed a Presidential memorandum to withdraw the U.S. from the TPP.
Background of the Media
The Utusan Group was incorporated in 1938 in Singapore as Utusan Melayu Press Limited. Its inaugural newspaper, Utusan Melayu, was launched on May 29, 1939. Today, the Group’s diverse expansion is still synergistic with its traditional core activities. In 1997, the Group made its entry into the world of multimedia with the launched of Utusan Malaysia On-Line, Malaysia’s first online newspaper in full text and visuals. Meanwhile, The Washington Times is an American daily newspaper that covers general interest topics with a particular emphasis on American politics. The paper is published as a broadsheet in Washington D.C. in 1982. The political leanings of The Washington Times are often described as conservative.
Agenda of the Media
Utusan Malaysia and The Washington Times have different ways of reporting this issue. The Washington Times was keen to highlight the liability of TPP by using hard-hitting words in their headlines. The newspaper had opted to use negative words such as ‘abandon’ and ‘mistakes’ to indicate that TPP is a damaging partnership in which the US should not be associated with. In an article titled “Donald Trump keeps campaign promise to abandon Trans-Pacific Partnership”, the newspaper again reported statements by Donald Trump which described the TPP as “bad deal” and “death blow to the American workers”. This was followed up by positive reporting of the termination of the partnership by saying that President Trump was given a round of applause by the union leaders. In another article titled “Donald Trump can learn from Barack Obama’s TPP mistakes”, the newspaper again started off by referring to TPP as “deeply flawed” and “misguided agreement”. These two articles illustrate the agenda of The Washington Times of approving President Trump’s decision to renounce United States’ participation in the TPP. Meanwhile, Utusan Malaysia, being a national newspaper decided to keep their agenda in line with the interest of the nation. Their article titled “TPP masih ada nilai tanpa Amerika Syarikat” (9th November 2017) presented a fairly mild reporting on the current situation of the TPP. There was no sensational phrases or words used for the purpose of the article was to inject back confidence into the market and the economy. The same can be described in another article titled “TPP akan diselamatkan” (10th November 2017) whereby the newspaper quoted the Malaysia Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Abdul Razak as saying that Malaysia, together with the remaining 10 countries are fully committed in making TPP as a significant economic bloc.
Practicalities of the Media
In terms of the presenting their stories, Utusan Malaysia reported with much more detail as they are accessible to key events and key personnel around this region. The news article often quoted sources from either Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib or the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. Besides that, Utusan Malaysia also often presented a more thorough viewpoint from other participating countries to show the inclusiveness of its reporting. On the other hand, The Washington Times have the benefits to include a video of President Trump signing the executive order of United States withdrawal from the TPP. The audio-visual recording of this historic event would increase the impact of the news and increase the attention of the viewers and readers. In addition to that, the newspaper also utilized many hyperlinks to enable the readers to jump to similar topics for further reading. This will make the reader stay on the website for longer periods.