Framing Interethnic Conflict in Malaysia: A Comparative Analysis of Newspapers Coverage on the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf)

Lai Fong Yang, Md Sidin Ahmad Ishak


Despite repeated warnings from the Malaysian government, the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) rally drew thousands of Indians protesting on the streets of Kuala Lumpur on November 25, 2007. Mistreatment of Indians and lack of press coverage of their plight had been commonplace for years. By employing framing as the theoretical framework and content analysis as the research method, this study examines what perspectives newspapers have created that influence citizens’ understanding of the Hindraf movement. Three mainstream newspapers were found to focus on the conflict frame, and their representation of Hindraf articulated a hegemonic discourse that was prejudicial to the interests of the group and contrary to a spirit of democratic inquiry. The dissimilar coverage of the same issue by the alternative newspaper denoted that publication’s varied points of view, which were rooted in different political beliefs, cultural assumptions and institutional practices.

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