Under the Banner of Democracy: Political Expression in Malaysia’s 13th General Election
Malaysia’s 13th general election, which was held in 2013, was billed as “the mother of all elections” because it was a do-or-die battle for the contestants in the wake of the last elections in 2008 where the “political tsunami” occurred with the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) alliance gaining much electoral strength beyond their wildest dream. Unsurprisingly, the incumbent Barisan Nasional (BN) electoral campaigning in 2013 went on a high gear. BN political advertisements prevailed in the mainstream media. Similarly, the roads and highways were filled with political posters, banners and billboards, majority of which were placed by the BN coalition. The reinvigorated PR also made its presence felt as reflected in the increased numbers of electoral campaign materials especially in PR-controlled states. This study found that, among other things, socio-economic development as a theme was aggressively promoted in the electoral campaigns. Another finding is that memories of significant past were invoked by the BN to strike a chord with the voters. These posters, banners and billboards are important to the democratic and electoral process, but are however no substitute to the mainstream media and political rallies, which are restricted, in a country like Malaysia. They only serve to partly help widen democratic space as well as add colour and vibrancy to general elections.
KeywordsElectoral Campaign Mainstream Medium Popular Vote Incumbent Party Political Advertising
- Chua, B. H. (2007). Introduction: Political elections as popular culture. In B. H. Chua (Ed.), Elections as popular culture in Asia (pp. 1–21). London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Dumitrescu, D. (2009). Spatial visual communications in election campaigns: Political posters strategies in two democracies. PhD dissertation submitted to the Graduate School of Ohio State University.Google Scholar
- Faruqui, S. S., & Ramanathan, S. (1998). Mass media laws and regulations in Malaysia. Singapore: AMIC.Google Scholar
- Fourie, L. M., & Froneman, J. D. (2001). Political posters on the road to democracy: A case study of two election campaigns in the North West Province. Ecquid Novi: African Journalism Studies, 22(2), 177–195.Google Scholar
- Gomez, E. T., & Jomo, K. S. (1997). Malaysia’s political economy: Politics, patronage and profits. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Isma Zuriyya, I., & Zaiha, A. (2014, March). A study of the 1Malaysia campaign promotion by information department and an exploratory survey on the public perception. International Journal of Social Science and Humanity, 4(2), 83–87.Google Scholar
- Khoo, B. T. (2005). Limits to democracy: Political economy, ideology and ruling coalition. In M. Puthucheary & N. Othman (Eds.), Elections and democracy in Malaysia (pp. 19–48). Bangi: Penerbit Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.Google Scholar
- Lee, J. C. H. (2007). Barisan Nasional—Political Dominance and the General Elections of 2004 in Malaysia. Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, 26, 38–65. http://www.ssoar.info/ssoar/bitstream/handle/document/33660/ssoar-suedostaktuell-2007-2-lee-Barisan_Nasional__Political_Dominance.pdf?sequence=1. Accessed April 17, 2015.
- Mustafa, K. A. (2010). Packaging the PM: The art and ideology of political advertising. In Y. S. Guan (Ed.), Media, culture and society in Malaysia (pp. 46–63). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Mustafa, K. A. (2014, June). Election advertising in the mainstream print media: Politics for sale during Malaysia’s 2013 General Election. Asia Pacific Media Educator, 24(1), 77–94.Google Scholar
- Noor Shams, H. (2010). Why do we have poster wars? http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/opinion/hafiz-noor-shams/article/why-do-we-have-poster-wars. Accessed December 10, 2014.
- Silverblatt, A. (1995). Media literacy. Westport, CT: Praeger.Google Scholar