The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections or known as Gabungan Pilihanraya Bersih dan Adil or Bersih in Malay is a non-government organisations (NGOs) coalition which seeks to reform the current electoral system in Malaysia to ensure free, clean and fair elections. It was officially formed on 23rd November 2006 as a joint communiqué that comprised leaders from political parties, civil society groups and NGOs. Bersih has accused the Election Commission under Prime Minister’s Department for manipulating the electoral process for giving an unfair advantage to the ruling National Front coalition. Bersih claimed that the electoral roll was spoiled by irregularities such as gerrymandering, phantom voters, mal apportionment and fraud postal votes. On 10th November 2007, Bersih organised the first rally with 10,000 to 40,000 turnouts and held a public demonstration at Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur. Supporters of Bersih were urged to wear yellow T-shirts as a symbol of protest.
Background of the Media
Utusan Malaysia or literally translated from Malay to English as “The Malaysian Courier” is a Malay-language newspaper published in Malaysia. Distinctive for its blue masthead as its logo and trademark, Utusan Malaysia was first published in Jawi in 1939. Utusan Malaysia became an influential medium for the people to voice out their opinions towards the ruling of British Government in Malaya.
BBC News is an operational business division of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that is responsible for the gathering and broadcasting of news and also current affairs. The department is the world’s largest broadcast news organization and generates about 120 hours of radio and television output each day, as well as online news coverage.
Utusan Online released a statement that Bersih movement is associated with a Christian group based outside of the country. According to the official statement, it is intended to reduce the post of Prime Minister due to injustice in governing the country. According to BBC News, the goal is to push Bersih electoral reform in Malaysia and the government claimed that the action was unfair. In addition, BBC News earned the story by saying there are jets of water cannons from the Net group. Utusan Online discussed the financial funds collected by Bersih that has reached millions of ringgit.
It is not logic if the analysts assumed that the money would be channelled and sponsored from the Christians. There is a revelation of the missing money and that is the cause that triggers chaos and riots. The source also pointed out that the biggest contributor to Bersih movement was affiliated with the Christian. In the meantime, the source also explained that the Net also received financial assistance from NGOs based in United States, Britain and several Asian countries whereas according to BBC News, there was an incident pursuing and using weapons among them.
In addition, the newspaper accused Bersih movement made a scapegoat by the Election Commission to legalise the illegal demonstration and had a net movement of the political mastermind. According to Awani, Bersih 4.0 or a classified banned rally in Malaysia also took place in several other cities around the world. According to Foreign Ministry, the respected bodies will collect information from Malaysians who are involved with illegal assembly Bersih 4.0 abroad. Legal actions can be taken against them later. The Ministry’s Deputy Minister, Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said the monitoring was conducted by Wisma Putra and their identities will be submitted to the national authorities so that actions will be taken according to the law of the country
Chronology of the Bersih Rally
Starting on 10 November 2007 at 5.30pm, Bersih 2.0 committee failed to submit a memorandum to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong at Istana Negara. However, he described that the association achieve its goals and they also slammed the rest of the participants, including those from other groups. It ends at 7:30 am the next day, there were numbers of trucks of the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU), including those equipped with water cannons along Jalan Maharajalela and towards Masjid Negara and Masjid Jamek.
The evidence of the Bersih is when the Prime Minister felt threatened by this movement and start to take action to this group. The purpose of this motion is to seek justice on behalf of the people and attempt to overthrow Prime Minister. Bersih rally has been initiated since 2007.
Post-tragedy September 11 in 2001, the world especially the western counties became more aware of the existence of Muslims, unfortunately for the wrong cause. The way the western media portrayed and exposed the incident that took over 3000 lives, blamed a group of Muslims and labelled them as terrorists for intruding and killing innocent people. The misconception of media had made the world especially the western, with some have not ever heard of the religion Islam started hating without understanding further and they also believed the information media fed them with. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported a 1,700 percent increase of hate crimes against Muslim Americans between the years of 2000 to 2001.
Since September 11, the perception on Islam and its followers in America changed and every Muslim was started to be labelled as terrorist. The western media had its own agenda in portraying the incident which some experts claim is a conspiracy against Islam itself or maybe the Arab world. The 9/11 “terrorist attack” also impacted other Muslim countries and also affected the Asians.
Even after 15 years since the tragedy, Muslims are still trying hard to clear the tarnished name of Islam. Many efforts had been taken to educate the western world on the simplicity and humbleness of the religion. While these efforts were in progress, some western population started to understand the religion better, with some decided to follow the faith of Islam. Figures by Muslimpopulation.com proved that the Muslim population has been increasing with high rates of conversions and through births. Islam has become the fastest-growing religion and now has the largest followers on the planet with 2.08 billion Muslims. The site estimates that by 2030, one out of three persons in the world will be Muslim.
However, this did not stop the western media from continuously stereotyping Muslims (Asian Muslims or Arab Americans) if a terror attack or a bombing incident occurs. The initial suspects are always Muslims. Osama bin Laden was always the main suspect for the attacks, and after his depart, The Islamic State (ISIS) is the new plot to blame the involvement of Muslims in terrorism activities. For example, the Daily Mail on 26 June 2016 with the headline: Terror suspect dubbed ‘the man in the hat’ after Paris and Brussels attacks becomes British police’s first ISIS Supergrass reported, Mohamed Abrini, 31, a Belgian, had been linked to the recent Paris and Brussels attacks, he was dubbed ‘man in the hat’ due to his attire at Brussels Airport in March. It was reported that Abrini has been helping the British police to stop terrorist plots and jihadists, however, he became the main ISIS suspect for UK, now he faces court hearings in Belgium. He was spotted on CCTV travelling to Paris two days before the Paris attack which killed 130 people in November 2015. He is also investigated for his link to the suicide bombing at Brussels Airport March 2016, which took 22 lives.
These planned attacks that were proclaimed by ISIS changed the perception on Islam where it portrayed the brutality of religion in killing and attacking countries they target. In other ways, the western media is trying to portray that the attacks did not stop with Taliban or Osama bin Laden, it is trying to show to the world that the religion Islam itself is cruel and takes many lives for its own objective, in the name of jihad. The scenario in some way ruined the awareness works conducted to explain about Islam post 9/11. What the western population failed to understand is that most Arabs in America are not necessarily Muslims, and most Muslims are not Arabs, while there are Arab Americans that originate from Lebanon and Syria, while some Muslim Americans are African Americans from South Asia. For them, as portrayed by western media, Muslims are terrorists.
The western media has represented Arabs and Muslims since decades ago. The west conceptualised Islam ever since the first contacts with Arabs Muslims. The term Islam as it is used today seems to mean something simple, the fact is, it is actually part of a fiction, an ideological label and a part of minimal designation of a religion called Islam. Today Islam sadly is a traumatic news in the West.
The negative picture of what Islam and Arabs are was described early in the Middle Ages, especially during the Crusade Wars and along the Arabs expansion in Europe since decades ago. The West promoted almost the same stereotypes for Arabs and Muslims and the pattern is now carried through the many channels of media to brainwash and block the minds of the people in the western world, suiting its agenda.
Many researchers examined the stereotyped image of Arabs in the Western media since many years ago. This is observed in a study by Shaheen (1983) which portrayed:
“…how the American media stereotypes of Arabs accompany a child from his early years to graduating from college, through editorial cartoons, television shows, comic strips, comic books, students textbook, in magazines and newspapers.” (Shaheen, 1983).
Shaheen said, the Arabs were dehumanized and presented as the ‘bad guys’”.
The west media never respected the Arabs, may it be Arab Americans or Asians; the hatred against Islam has been pre-conceptualized negatively in cartoon images on newspapers and magazines. Scholars had also studied this stereotyped image in editorial cartoons and comic strips. A study by Stockton in (1994) resulted that images of the Arabs had been presented in hundreds of cartoons from editorial pages and comic strips. All the cartoons Stockton studied presented a dehumanizing image of Arabs. The latest incident of humiliating Muslims and Arabs was a comic strip by a French satirical weekly magazine, Charlie Hebdo, publishing a number of cartoons mimicking Prophet Muhammad SAW. This angered Muslim around the world, the magazine later became targets of two terrorist attacks, in 2011 and 2015, respectively.
The American society also stereotypes Arab American women as veiled, docile, home bound victims. A researcher addressed how contemporary American fiction presented Arabs and Muslims as “backward, greedy, lustful, evil, or inhumane”.
“…this group makes “convenient scapegoats in almost all contemporary fiction that deals with Middle East themes”. (Terry, 1983)
The stereotyping of Muslim women began during the Taliban’s insidious reign in Afghanistan, it illustrated lifestyles of the Muslim women under the Taliban rule after 9/11. Muslim women faced discrimination even from the way they dress. Issues on veil and headscarf have been on- going for many-many decades. Among the popular cases is the story of the three students in France where their rights to wear headscarves in school was discriminated. Their acts to stand up for their religion turned many heads, teachers protested and the France government got involved and new guidelines and rules were made siding the school management. The fight of the three girls began in 1989 and it went on until 2003. Between 1994 and 2003, around 100 female students were suspended or expelled from middle and high schools for wearing the scarf in class. In nearly half of these cases, their exclusions were annulled by the French courts.
The identity of the Arabs has also been distorted by the media, the complexions of male and female Arabs described differently, where the men are always shown with dark complexion and the females are often fair. The distortion of Arabs identity is observed in the Disney cartoon ‘Aladin’, where the personality of legendary figure Princess Jasmine was changed ranging from her name to her character. Ascribing to her all the features that are allegedly believed to characterize Muslim and Arab women. The change of identity, the color of complexion and the clothing of Jasmine in the cartoon showed to the world especially children about the characteristic of Arabs, is an indoctrination process to blindfold the people of the world and the young about the Arabs. This proves that the process to spread negativity about Muslims has been designed many-many decades ago through many mediums of the media. The media has the power to influence the mind of its listeners, viewers and readers through many channels where messages are delivered.
The reason for the western media to stereotype Arab Americans and the Muslims around the world, is because of the inferiority of the ‘other’ stereotyped image presents, it is not only promoting the superiority of the stereotyper, but also provides immunity for transgressing against the stereotyped group. Stockton recognized :
“…. that such stereotyping can be justify key policy decisions taken by political power for it to justify injustices committed by individuals or nations against the stereotyped ‘other.” (Stockton, 1994)
The impact of the negative stereotyping of Arabs on Arab Americans, has caused the Arab community to suffer in many ways, as the negative stereotyped image of Arabs has been planted in the minds of Americans and the rest of the world over the decades. It was also found, in a study on American press coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflicts in 1956, 1967 and 1973 that showed negative stereotype of the Arabs was used as a weapon by the American media in favour of Israel. Having its own propaganda to oppress the Muslim world and the religion Islam itself, the America-Israel leaders had plotted the stereotyping of the Arabs Muslims decades ago by misleading the world on the truth about the Muslims and their lifestyle in practising the religion.
Anderson, C. (2002, November 25). FBI reports jump in violence against Muslims. Associated Press.
The development of media technology has requires human to infuse the usage of media as a form of communication tools and to gain information in which will help them to improve their knowledge and skills. Moving towards modernization, many parents began introducing the use of media in their children’s lives in early age, not only to communicate, but also as learning tools that will influence, persuade and embedded various information for future use.
Children nowadays have the access of using the internet, in addition, they now have collections of smart phones, computers, game console, tablet PC and many computer-mediated communication tools. The advancement of media technologies facilitate the need of human interface in communication. The richer the media, the more effects it has on it consumer. Not only that, the hours of consumer dependency on media also contributes to the effects of media to children. With the richer media, it provides visual aids, interactive communication, and conveys information that captures the attention of children in using media.
Media as companionship
Modern parents encounter many challenges in balancing their work and having to spend time with their kids. Therefore, turning to ‘gadget’ are the easiest way to keep their children entertain while they are away. To compensate the reduced in human face-to-face interaction between parents and their children, the media becomes their children’s
medium of companionship to satisfy their needs. These children uses the media to entertain themselves, acquiring information, building and maintaining social relationship with their family members, peer from school and form new connections from social networking sites. Children often engage with their smart phones, excessive time consumption on television and their social networking sites. Without having control, cases of obsessed with electronics are on the rise involving children are very concerning (Brown, Scharf, Bustos, Chavira & Stein, 2013).
Our children are depending on media for their development instead of human interface. The theory of Uses and Gratification Theory illustrates on how media usage comply with the need of human in acquiring information, personal and social integration and seeking the need of affection and tension release. This theory explains that the people are active in using a particular media and its users are self-aware and articulate the reasons why they use the media (West & Turner, 2014). However, in fulfilling these needs, the parent should have the responsibility to limit on what their children are consuming as it may affect their skills of human interaction in reality social situation. Face-to-face interaction should be encouraged.
The risk of disclosing private information
With easy access to the internet, at young age, we can see many children began to engage and use the social networking sites to form or maintain relationship in the virtual world. Now, a typical 7 year old have Facebook profiles, Twitter account and shares many photograph on Instagram on daily basis. Unconsciously, these children are sharing their location and vital information about their personal lives. Without guidance, this increase the risk of exposing private information to the public, jeopardising their information security and safety. Children may be not aware of their right of information and which appropriate information that are suitable to be shared to the public.
In the process of growing up, children are bound to make mistakes. Without having to know the consequences, they may disclose inappropriate information or photograph to the public, this makes them vulnerable to be discussed on public platform. Without having control of how the information are shared, cyber bullying are one of disturbing phenomenon that manipulate the information available on the internet and irresponsibly use it to bring damage to the children’s emotions and mentally. Suicidal cases among children and teen are highly record due to this sick behaviour. The Communication Privacy Management Theory explain how information can be shared and the ownership of information to determine the boundaries of private information that they are willing to share. When the children lost their ownership and control of their own information, one mistakes could lead to the turbulence of boundaries because the rules of privacy has been violated. We need to educate the children on the boundaries permeability in protecting our children safety in avoiding the public abuse.
Shapes the children’s perception and belief about the world
According to Christakis (2008), 90% of children spend large amount of time on television regularly before the age of 2 in spite of recommendation to contrary. Over time, with constant consumption of media, it effects on the children’s perception and belief about the world based on what they have been nurtured of. It can be positive or negative. Currently in Malaysia, the repetition of news reports on crime involving children are becoming regular. The on-going commentary about the situation and public campaign about children’s safety contributes to the perception of children about their surrounding environments are not safe anymore. Even though it is a good campaign to stay alert, however the negative feeling they feel in becoming the victim has shape negative perception about the world. Hence, limiting them to be optimistic and do social activities without having the risk of crime occurring.
Cultivation theory explains that the constant messages convey to the children shapes the perception about the world and society surrounds them. Through media, they will learn numerous facts on what are happening in the society (first order effect) and with these information, they will make general assumption about the condition of the world (second order effect). With heavy TV consumption, they will believe that the world is a violence place and crime will likely happen to them compared to children with light consumption (Gerbner, 1999).
Learns and imitates the behaviour seen on media
Children are still in the phase of learning and developing. They can be easily influenced by what they see on the media. The media content that they consume will have a significant effect in their behaviour. While watching television, children observed the behaviour of the subject and learn to imitate the action and behaviour pattern of the person doing. The phenomena of Malaysian children imitating the behaviour of scene and dialogues from the movie ‘KL Gangster’ is one of an example of the effect of media on children. With the exposure of violence towards children, this motivates aggression and develops disturbing behaviour to society as they learn and applied it in surrounding environments. If the response from the society are encouraging and positive, they will continued with the behaviour. If the response are negative, they will learned that aggressive behaviour are not acceptable in a society.
Most minors get into crime because of negative peer influence and elements of gangsterism which are penetrating the schools. The young society perceived gangsterism as a cool and trendy behaviour, hence, increasing youth participation in gangsterism and juvenile crime totalled 7,816 cases in 2013 as compared to 3,700 cases in 2012 (Lee, 2014). In Social Cognitive Theory, it believe that people are self-organising, proactive, self-reflecting and self-regulating. Human self-development, adaptation, and changed are embedded in social systems (Bryant & Zillman, 2002). Children learned the behavioural capability through observational learning in order to perform a behaviour. They will learn on what to do and how to do it. The responses of the behaviour will determine the likelihood of continuing or discontinuing the behaviour. Resulting from positive of negative response, it will associate with the expectation of each action done.
The usage of media can be beneficial and have negative consequences at times. Parent must be responsible for their children’s welfare and development if they want to raise their child that shares the same values that the parent wanting them to. Even though parent encounter many challenging phenomenon in raising their children, the usage of media must be proportionate and adequately used parallel with the need of their children. Human need to educate themselves on the purpose of using the media and balance their technology literacy with human actual interaction. Human physical interaction contains valuable moments that build the values and belief of a child. It gives quality time and organic ways of communication. The face-to-face interaction and attention given will develop the attention of need and nurture sense of love in a family.
There was once a time we used
To laugh at each other
To smile at each other
There was a time when we would
Let go of everything
Just to be with each other
As time passed by
Rivers began to dry
Seas began to tranquil
Things that were once so bright
Things that were once so colourful
Were no longer there
That you started looking
That you started lingering
In other places
Leaving me to fend for myself
Cold as winter, my heart
Began to feel that once we,
We were so happy
Now it is just something
We used to be…