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From both sides of the line: A
case study of Singaporean
and Malaysian print media
during the Pedra Branca
territorial
dis...
3

AGENDA
• Background
• Research Problem
• Theoretical perspectives and methodology
• Newspaper profiles
• Distribution o...
BACKGROUND

4

Pedra Branca/Pulau
Batu Puteh:
• 24nm E of Singapore,
7.7nm S of Malaysian
state of Johor
• “White rock”
• ...
5

RESEARCH PROBLEM
Context: Bilateral/multilateral disputes between countries.
Problem: How these issues are presented in...
6

THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES AND
METHODOLOGY
• Communications theories employed:
– Agenda-setting (McCombs & Shaw, 1972)
– ...
NEWSPAPER PROFILES
The Straits Times

7

New Straits Times

Readership

1,387,000

236,000

Median age of
readers

35-39 y...
8

SELECTION PROCESS FOR NEWSPAPER
ARTICLES
• Time frame: 6 months before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) hearing...
DISTRIBUTION OF ARTICLES OVER TIME (MAY
’07 – NOV ’08)

9

ST
NST

December 3, 2013

A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Confe...
10

SAMPLING PROCESS AND THEMES
• Systematic random sampling was performed and 5 articles chosen for each paper
during eac...
11

FINDINGS
Sovereignty
• The legal status of a state, within its territory, that is not subject to the
jurisdiction of a...
FINDINGS

12

Sovereignty
Newspaper

During the hearing (Nov
2007)

The Straits
Times

 Malaysian case untenable due to
l...
13

FINDINGS
Bilateral relations
• Described as symbiotic and special (Omar 2007; Ting 2009)
• Both countries strategicall...
FINDINGS

14

Bilateral relations
Newspaper
The Straits
Times

During the hearing (Nov
2007)

During the decision (May 200...
15

FINDINGS
Johor
• Refers to the ancient historical empire of the Johor Sultanate and its
modern incarnation as the stat...
FINDINGS

16

Johor
Newspaper

During the hearing (Nov
2007)

During the decision (May 2008)

The Straits
Times

 Johor i...
FINDINGS

17

Shifts over time
Theme

The Straits Times

New Straits Times

Sovereignty

 Media frames tended to shift
fr...
FINDINGS

18

Shifts over time
Theme

The Straits Times

New Straits Times

Bilateral
relations

 Media frames remained
l...
FINDINGS

19

Shifts over time
Theme

The Straits Times

New Straits Times

Johor

 Relevance of Johor Sultanate
and Joho...
20

CONCLUSIONS
RQ1: In a territorial dispute between two countries, what perspectives
can the local print media adopt?
• ...
21

CONCLUSIONS
RQ2: How can these perspectives shift over the course of the
dispute?
• Not all perspectives change over t...
22

CONCLUSIONS
Final statements
• Articles from both newspapers did not contain overly-inflammatory content
against the o...
23

CONCLUSIONS
Final statements
• This research has uncovered some of the possible media perspectives
that may emerge fro...
24

REFERENCES
Andaya, LY 2004, 'Johor', in KG Ooi (ed.), Southeast Asia: A historical encyclopedia, from Angkor Wat to
Ea...
25

REFERENCES
Omar, R 2007, 'Malaysia-Singapore relations: Issues and strategies', paper presented at the International
C...
A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD
December 3, 2013

CRICOS Provider 00109J | www.newcastle.e...
From both sides of the line: A case study of Singaporean and Malaysian print media during the Pedra Branca territorial dis...
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From both sides of the line: A case study of Singaporean and Malaysian print media during the Pedra Branca territorial dispute

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Honours thesis; presented at the Journalism Education Association of Australia (JEAA) 2013 conference in Sunshine Coast, Queensland.

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From both sides of the line: A case study of Singaporean and Malaysian print media during the Pedra Branca territorial dispute

  1. 1. From both sides of the line: A case study of Singaporean and Malaysian print media during the Pedra Branca territorial dispute JIAYU QUEEK Faculty of Science and IT School of Design, Communication and IT MR PAUL SCOTT B.A., Grad. Dip. Comm., Grad. Dip. Ed., M.Lit. Lecturer Faculty of Science and IT School of Design, Communication and IT DR JANET FULTON PhD (Media and Communication) Lecturer Faculty of Science and IT School of Design, Communication and IT December 3, 2013
  2. 2. 3 AGENDA • Background • Research Problem • Theoretical perspectives and methodology • Newspaper profiles • Distribution of articles over time (May ’08 – Nov ’08) • Selection process for newspaper articles • Sampling process and themes • Findings • Conclusions • References December 3, 2013 A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD | www.newcastle.edu.au
  3. 3. BACKGROUND 4 Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh: • 24nm E of Singapore, 7.7nm S of Malaysian state of Johor • “White rock” • Ownership of this island + Middle Rocks + South Ledge was disputed since 1979 • Pedra Branca awarded to Singapore in 2008 ("Sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge," 2008) December 3, 2013 A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD | www.newcastle.edu.au
  4. 4. 5 RESEARCH PROBLEM Context: Bilateral/multilateral disputes between countries. Problem: How these issues are presented in local media. • RQ1: In a territorial dispute between two countries, what perspectives can the local print media adopt? • RQ2: How can these perspectives shift over the course of the dispute? December 3, 2013 A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD | www.newcastle.edu.au
  5. 5. 6 THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES AND METHODOLOGY • Communications theories employed: – Agenda-setting (McCombs & Shaw, 1972) – Framing (Scheufele & Tewksbury 2007) • NB: The bulk of this presentation addresses framing observations; agenda-setting is dealt with in the thesis • Method: Comparison of articles from one Singaporean (The Straits Times) and one Malaysian newspaper (New Straits Times) December 3, 2013 A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD | www.newcastle.edu.au
  6. 6. NEWSPAPER PROFILES The Straits Times 7 New Straits Times Readership 1,387,000 236,000 Median age of readers 35-39 years old 35-39 years old Income Median: SGD 7,103 Average: > RM 5,000 (Source: NSTP Group 2012; Publicitas International 2013; Singapore Press Holdings 2012) • Similar role of (mainstream) print media in both countries – nation-building (Nathan 2009) and supporting the establishment (Rajaratnam 2009) December 3, 2013 A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD | www.newcastle.edu.au
  7. 7. 8 SELECTION PROCESS FOR NEWSPAPER ARTICLES • Time frame: 6 months before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) hearing and 6 months after ICJ ruling on the dispute (i.e. May 2007 to November 2008) • 130 articles located from The Straits Times, 79 articles located from New Straits Times December 3, 2013 A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD | www.newcastle.edu.au
  8. 8. DISTRIBUTION OF ARTICLES OVER TIME (MAY ’07 – NOV ’08) 9 ST NST December 3, 2013 A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD | www.newcastle.edu.au
  9. 9. 10 SAMPLING PROCESS AND THEMES • Systematic random sampling was performed and 5 articles chosen for each paper during each time period (total = 20) • The 20 articles were run through CAQDAS (Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software) to generate main themes and concept maps • Concepts + immersion in articles enabled three themes to emerge: – Sovereignty, bilateral relations, Johor December 3, 2013 A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD | www.newcastle.edu.au
  10. 10. 11 FINDINGS Sovereignty • The legal status of a state, within its territory, that is not subject to the jurisdiction of a foreign state or laws other than that which are applicable internationally (Steinberger 2000) • Concept: Sovereignty = ownership December 3, 2013 A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD | www.newcastle.edu.au
  11. 11. FINDINGS 12 Sovereignty Newspaper During the hearing (Nov 2007) The Straits Times  Malaysian case untenable due to lack of any (protest) action. During the decision (May 2008)  Malaysian case untenable due to lack of any (protest) action.  Claim to sovereignty based on actions taken that prove its ownership.  Focus on other issues of maritime boundaries, etc. New Straits Times  Had sovereignty of Pedra Branca right from the start; Singapore is challenger.  Other offshore islands will not be lost in the same way as Pedra Branca.  Malaysia got Middle Rocks, access issues to it.  Had sovereignty right from the start. December 3, 2013 A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD | www.newcastle.edu.au
  12. 12. 13 FINDINGS Bilateral relations • Described as symbiotic and special (Omar 2007; Ting 2009) • Both countries strategically reliant on each other, yet also compete closely (Ting 2009) • Relationship also marked by periods of tension and disputes (Ting 2009) December 3, 2013 A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD | www.newcastle.edu.au
  13. 13. FINDINGS 14 Bilateral relations Newspaper The Straits Times During the hearing (Nov 2007) During the decision (May 2008)  Diplomacy is key to solve disputes between countries.  Maintaining good bilateral relations is important.  Maintaining good bilateral relations (between SG & MY) is important.  Both countries satisfied with the result; work on improving relations.  Going to the ICJ for arbitration was the right thing to do. New Straits Times  Negative view of the longstanding dispute; an obstacle in bilateral relations.  Malaysians should not feel angry at Singapore if the result doesn’t go their way.  Singapore is (sometimes) the aggressor in these disputes.  Win-win situation for both countries.  Issue of ownership settled, avoid further conflict as best as possible. December 3, 2013 A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD | www.newcastle.edu.au
  14. 14. 15 FINDINGS Johor • Refers to the ancient historical empire of the Johor Sultanate and its modern incarnation as the state of Johor within the Federation of Malaysia. • Central to the dispute because of its historical relation to Pedra Branca as well as geographical proximity. (Andaya 2004; National Library Board Singapore 2005) December 3, 2013 A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD | www.newcastle.edu.au
  15. 15. FINDINGS 16 Johor Newspaper During the hearing (Nov 2007) During the decision (May 2008) The Straits Times  Johor is relevant to the dispute both geographically and historically.  More references towards Johor as a political entity (i.e. the Johor Sultanate; state of Johor) and its significance to the case.  Malaysia had original title over Pedra Branca VS sovereignty passed to Singapore due to its actions  historical claims not as relevant. New Straits Times  Malaysia has possessed sovereignty (through the Johor Sultanate) since time immemorial.  Malaysia has possessed sovereignty (through the Johor Sultanate) since time immemorial.  Focus on impact to Johor community:  Muslims accepted the decision  Fishermen don’t have access to fishing grounds near Middle Rocks – yet. A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD | www.newcastle.edu.au
  16. 16. FINDINGS 17 Shifts over time Theme The Straits Times New Straits Times Sovereignty  Media frames tended to shift from establishing the legitimacy of the Singapore argument to acknowledging Singapore’s victory  Media frames tended to maintain the argument that Malaysia had sovereignty right from the start, although it had acknowledged Singapore’s victory in the ICJ ruling.  Also moved on to the practical future issues of delimiting maritime boundaries, etc.  Focus shifted to Middle Rocks, which Malaysia was awarded, and the sovereignty of other offshore possessions. December 3, 2013 A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD | www.newcastle.edu.au
  17. 17. FINDINGS 18 Shifts over time Theme The Straits Times New Straits Times Bilateral relations  Media frames remained largely similar over time; i.e. bilateral relations are highly important and going to the ICJ for arbitration helped to not jeopardise it.  Media frames appeared to approach the dispute negatively, regarding it as an obstacle in bilateral relations.  Secondary frame: Both countries were pleased with the result and wanted to advance relations to the next level.  Transitions to a more positive note in May 2008 – it was a win-win solution, opportunity to repair damaged relations, conflict avoidance.  Singapore was observed to be framed as being aggressive with territorial claims. December 3, 2013 A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD | www.newcastle.edu.au
  18. 18. FINDINGS 19 Shifts over time Theme The Straits Times New Straits Times Johor  Relevance of Johor Sultanate and Johor (state) was mentioned since the ICJ accepted Malaysia’s argument of its salience to the dispute.  Media frames initially emphasised on the importance of Johor to the dispute as part of the government’s arguments presented to the ICJ.  Possibly downplayed in favour of Singapore’s argument that its activities on Pedra Branca since the 1850s proved that it had sovereignty over the island.  After the ICJ ruling, to maintain relevance, attention shifted over to the Johor community. December 3, 2013 A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD | www.newcastle.edu.au
  19. 19. 20 CONCLUSIONS RQ1: In a territorial dispute between two countries, what perspectives can the local print media adopt? • Themes tied to sovereignty and diplomacy • Establish historical and communal links to the disputed areas to legitimise ownership • Media agendas and frames are also subject to the influence of national interests (Jang 2013) December 3, 2013 A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD | www.newcastle.edu.au
  20. 20. 21 CONCLUSIONS RQ2: How can these perspectives shift over the course of the dispute? • Not all perspectives change over the course of the dispute • With a third-party (such as the ICJ) delivering a binding agreement, the victor may seek to emphasise its argument over other points of view • Loser may ignore all points-of-view rather than its own; likely to shift focus away to other topics e.g. border security • Unchanged perspectives are likely due to their high strategic importance for the country, e.g. maintaining bilateral relations with close neighbours December 3, 2013 A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD | www.newcastle.edu.au
  21. 21. 22 CONCLUSIONS Final statements • Articles from both newspapers did not contain overly-inflammatory content against the other party – Concept of ‘face’: A derivative of collectivist East Asian cultural logic. Represents an individuals sense of self-worth in social interactions (Aslani, Ramirez-Marin, Semnani-Azad, Brett & Tinsley 2013) – Critically relevant to interactions between nations on the international stage December 3, 2013 A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD | www.newcastle.edu.au
  22. 22. 23 CONCLUSIONS Final statements • This research has uncovered some of the possible media perspectives that may emerge from print media content during a territorial dispute, and how these perspectives may shift over time • Model for media policy in future territorial disputes • Possible further research: Comparisons between two or more countries on subjects such as journalistic treatment of sovereignty and foreign policy issues December 3, 2013 A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD | www.newcastle.edu.au
  23. 23. 24 REFERENCES Andaya, LY 2004, 'Johor', in KG Ooi (ed.), Southeast Asia: A historical encyclopedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor, vol. 1, ABC-CLIO, Inc., Santa Barbara, CA. Blaxter, L., Hughes, C., & Tight, M. (2010). Thinking about methods. How to research (4th ed., pp. 54-80). Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill International. Crotty, M. (2003). Introduction: The research process. The foundations of social research: Meaning and perspective in the research process (pp. 1 - 17). London: SAGE Publications. Media search | Publicitas International. (2013) Retrieved 12 April 2013, from http://www.publicitas.com/en/home/media-solutions/media-search Nathan, SR 2009, SPH has become an important part of Singapore's nation-building, journalism.sg, viewed 2 October 2013, from http://journalism.sg/2009/03/31/sph-has-become-an-important-part-ofsingapores-nation-building/ National Library Board Singapore 2005, Strait of Johore | Infopedia, viewed 4 October 2013, http://infopedia.nl.sg/articles/SIP_787_2005-01-24.html NSTP Group 2012, The New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Berhad, viewed 16 May 2013, http://www.nstp.com.my/ December 3, 2013 A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD | www.newcastle.edu.au
  24. 24. 25 REFERENCES Omar, R 2007, 'Malaysia-Singapore relations: Issues and strategies', paper presented at the International Conference on Southeast Asia (ICONSEA), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 3 December 2007. Rajaratnam, UD 2009, 'Role of traditional and online media in the 12th general election,Malaysia', The Journal of the South East Asia Research Centre for Communications and Humanities, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 33-58. Scheufele, D. A., & Tewksbury, D. (2007). Framing, agenda-setting, and priming: The evolution of three media effects models. Journal of Communication, 57, 9-20. doi: 10.1111/j.0021-9916.2007.00326.x Singapore Press Holdings 2012, The Straits Times media kit 2012, viewed 17 May 2013, http://www.sph.com.sg/pdf/MediaKit2012/ST%20Media%20Kit%202012%20(Jan%202012).pdf Sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge, No. 937 12 (International Court of Justice 2008). Steinberger, H 2000, 'Sovereignty', in R Bernhardt (ed.), Encyclopedia of public international law, vol. IV, Elsvier, Amsterdam. Ting, MH 2009, 'Singapore-Malaysia relations revisited: An "English School" IR analysis', New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 172-198. Weerakkody, N. (2009). The research process. Research methods for media and communication (pp. 116). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press December 3, 2013 A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD | www.newcastle.edu.au
  25. 25. A presentation at the 2013 JEAA Conference, Sunshine Coast, QLD December 3, 2013 CRICOS Provider 00109J | www.newcastle.edu.au

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