Malaysian media and Indonesian media – a quick comparison

by Eyes Wide Open

This is a story taken from the NST.

It’s very interesting from a writer’s point of view. Because it really shows very clearly the difference in mindset between the Indonesian government and the Malaysian government’s attitude towards the media. It also reveals the media’s attitudes themselves about their roles and relationship with government.


Cool it, Jakarta tells media bosses


KUALA LUMPUR: Indonesian media editors and bosses have been told to stop sensationalising the ongoing In donesia-Malaysia spat which has caused tension to escalate between the two countries.

The minister councillor (information, social and culture) to Malaysia, Widyarka Ryananta, said the government had held talks with the local media in the republic to stop highlighting issues which provoked the people and incited hate against Malaysians.

“We have held dialogues with the media and meetings with media bosses in light of the recent events. They have been advised to cool off and not make matters worse by blowing the issue out of proportion.

“We hope the situation has calmed down somewhat, but the media still have to play their part. The Indonesian government does not have control over the media and they have the right to express their opinion on various matters,” he told the New Straits Times when contacted yesterday.


Situation: A Malaysian UMNO-owned MSM is reporting about the Indonesian government’s efforts to reign in the media. So we have 2 governments and 2 media involved in this one story – that’s why we have the opportunity to do this quick comparison.

Let’s read between the lines…


Then the NST writes: “Indonesian media editors and bosses have been told to stop sensationalising the ongoing In donesia-Malaysia spat…”

Very authoritative. Very top down. Very “I tell, you do”. In short, very Malaysian.

But the report quotes minister councillor Widyarka Ryananta as saying, “We have held dialogues with the media and meetings with media bosses…They have been advised to cool off…”

The Indonesian government had “dialogues” with the media.

The Indonesian government “advised” the media.

The Indonesian government’s attitude towards their media is hardly in line the NST headline’s use of the authoritative word “tells”, which would suggest the media’s subservience to government.

The NST writings reveal the editorial mindset towards their role as media. The Freudian slip shows that they are so completely caught up in their idea of media’s political subservience that they interpret “dialogue” and “advice” as “tell” (i.e. instruct).

Now, just in case someone thinks that the words “advise” and “dialogue” have the same political connotations as they do in Malaysia, there’s this other quote by the minister councillor:

“The Indonesian government does not have control over the media and they have the right to express their opinion on various matters…”

So not only are the Indonesian media granted the freedom to express their opinion, the Indonesian government respects their rights to freedom of expression!

Compared with Malaysia?

Of course, all the Malaysian MSM know they better kow-tow to their political masters’ will. If a media is not owned by political parties, they quiver in fear of not having their printing permits renewed the following year – so they know they better draw the line.

And in Malaysia, the media doesn’t even have to give a dissenting opinion to get in trouble with the law.

All you have to do is report the truth – like Tan Hoon Cheng and Steven Gan.

5 Responses to “Malaysian media and Indonesian media – a quick comparison”
  1. collin says:

    As a student of comparative social history can I, with respect, suggest that that the nst focus on some of the more fundamental structural questions and issue in Indonesia/ Malaysia, against the background of the different emerging political cultures of these respective nations.

    After all Indonesia accused Malaysia of Neo-colonialism and launched a policy of confrontation to “smash” Malaysia.An excellent reference is available in “Australia and the Formation of Malaysia, 1961-1966” published by the Department of Foreign Affairs, that gives perspective to the more important relevant questions and issues involved and I strongly urge nst to take a more serious look at them.


    The mass media is only expected to report and not react
    Must only leave it to the readers to read and then reflect
    The media is not expected to be bias in what it selects
    Must leave enough news substance for readers to detect

    (C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng – 160909
    Wed. 16th Sept. 2009.

  3. man says:

    ha ha ha…..i don’t know what you up to . are you saying media in indonesia doing better than in malaysia?…i don’t think so. i have been living in indonesia, working here…..from what i have observed, it is not what you think. sometimes, the media over here just like a circus, if you know what i meant….trying to outdo each other, even their tv….

    • hartalmsm says:

      I’m saying the Indonesian press enjoy the right to freedom of expression. They are allowed to have dissenting views right? To disagree with the govt and each other. Which is the opposite of the situation in Malaysia. That’s the point of this article and the point you’re saying.

      Isn’t that correct?

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