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SEARCH 5 (1) 2013


The Research Imperative in the Evolving Environment of Public Universities in Malaysia
* Parvinder Kaur Hukam Singh, Thavamalar Thuraisingam, Vikneswaran Nair & Maya Khemlani David

Abstract:

The importance of original scholarship as proposed by Humboldt has shaped the research mission in universities worldwide. Universities in Malaysia which are the pivotal organisations of a knowledge society are mandated to fulfill the aspiration of the government for Malaysia to be a regional and international education hub. To meet this challenge, organised research has become an imperative in Malaysian universities. This study examines the factors impacting educational convergence and the Malaysian universities’ adoptive response to this convergence at multiple levels: transnational, national and within the universities. We analysed both the standard-setting macro structures and the micro adoptive mechanisms, processes and agents which contribute to shaping the discursive space of research in Malaysian public universities. The theoretical framework preferred for the synthesised analysis draws on the neo-institutionalist theory (Meyer and Ramirez, 2000), self-referencing the social system theory (Luhmann, 1982) and the externalisation thesis (Schriewer, 2003). The neo-institutionalist theory helps explain the exogenous structural forces and general trends and the two latter theories examine the contextual, that is, the social, cultural, historical, political and economic factors which help to understand the idiosyncratic trajectories, processes and meanings of the responses of Malaysian public universities to the international research imperative. The data was collected through interviews with local academics from five public universities. The themes which emerged from the data were: (i) the role of the global and local convergence and divergence in the shaping of the research mission of public universities; (ii) the research policies and their unintended consequences; (iii) discipline differentials in the research output; (iv) innovative research in the service of the community; and (v) the bind of bias – problems of publication. It is hoped that the dialectic theoretical framework and the multilevel analysis will contribute towards an understanding of the research culture in Malaysian universities and advance research discourse in Malaysia.

Keywords: Higher education, research mission, public universities, dialectic theoretical framework

Pages: 1-18 | First Published: 1 March 2013

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SEARCH 5 (1) 2013


‘Dog Whistle Journalism’ of Racialising Myanmar Refugees
Yeoh Pei Lee

Abstract:

The journalistic practice of representing refugees is commonly performed by erecting symbolic boundaries that depict their differences from the dominant group. The castigation of such symbolic marking enables how new racism is understood, formed, and naturalised. This expansive contemporary notion of racism locates minority groups as socially constructed categories and a racist discourse is one imbricated with social practices of language, culture, and traditions. Using a discourse analytical approach, this study will demystify the insidious form of racism found in three news reports in The Star, the mostread English daily in Malaysia, that framed the Myanmarese refugees within a negative exclusionary angle. Specifically, at the micro level, a discursive analysis of the properties of news discourse of racism is undertaken. At the macro level, the constitutive association between the discursive and social practice is shown. Through banal journalism, the study reveals how the politics of representing the Myanmar community here problematises the securitisation and the criminalisation of this group of people. Cumulatively, through systematic deconstruction of news discourse from these two levels, this paper displays how racism is intricately embedded and enmeshed in the socio-economic and socio-political structures that are pivotal in establishing certain power structures and group relations within a society. The analysis also reports on discursive means through the use of binary oppositions with the strategic manoeuvering of others brings about a tensile balance of power between the subordinated Myanmarese and the wider national society at large. The paper concludes that such dog-whistle journalism defies the basic tenet of the culture of globalisation i.e. the politics of recognition, where it fails to engage in creating awareness of the plurality of cultures and identities of the Myanmar minority.

Keywords: Racism, media discourse, mecuritisation, Myanmar refugees

Pages: 19-34 | First Published: 1 March 2013

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SEARCH 5 (1) 2013


Media Coverage: The Bukit Antarabangsa Landslide
Prasana Rosaline Fernandez, Lean Mei Li & Khor Yoke Lim

Abstract:

In the intersection between communication and crisis, the mass media play a significant role in influencing not only public definition and interpretation of the situation but also evaluation of responses from relevant agencies, decision makers and those affected. The media is not dominated by one actor but represented by multiple actors and discourses, each negotiating to ensure that their views predominate and are able to influence people’s interpretation and understanding. This paper, based on critical discourse analysis, will examine a Malaysian newspaper’s coverage of a landslide in an upper middle class housing area in Kuala Lumpur. The ‘Bukit Antarabangsa tragedy’ which occurred on 6 December 2008 killed 5 persons and led to the evacuation of thousands of families. The paper will investigate how discourse representation was carried out, examining which voices were privileged or systematically excluded and how voices were recontextualised and how they were framed in relation to each other and in relation to the writer’s voice. The analysis highlights the structures of reporting of the various dominant actors, namely, the ruling central government, the opposition state government, the previous state government aligned to the ruling dominant party, victims of previous landslide, current landslide victims and landslide experts, to legitimise or challenge specific responses, actions and decisions.

Keywords: Media, communication, crisis, critical discourse analysis, recontextualised

Pages: 35-55 | First Published: 1 March 2013

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SEARCH 5 (1) 2013


Identity Construction and Code Switching in English Newspaper Advertisements
* Deborah Ashabai Fredericks John & Francisco Perlas Dumanig

Abstract:

This study examined identity construction through the use of code switching in English language newspaper advertisements in Malaysia. Specifically, this study investigated how code switching is used to construct identity and determine the types of identities constructed. One hundred and twenty one (121) food, finance, motoring, energy and telecommunications English advertisements with Malay, Tamil and Chinese code switching occurrences were selected from the three local English newspapers with the highest circulation over a period of six months from 1 August, 2011 to 31 January, 2012. The data was analysed using Bhatia’s (1992) four structural components of advertisements, Piller’s (2001) identity theory of similarity and difference and Woodward’s (1997) theory of difference and representation. The findings reveal that during festivals, advertisers construct identity through code switching in the headline and body copy components of their advertisements. The types of identities constructed include Islamic identity, ethnic identities and national (Malaysian) identity. The findings are consistent with previous studies on language choice and advertising.

Keywords: Advertising, code switching, identity construction, language choice

Pages: 57-71 | First Published: 1 March 2013

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