Thursday, August 22, 2013


By Mansor Puteh

May be this matter has escaped everybody’s attention, especially the policy makers, for the issue is quite petty really.
          Television, or more specifically, Malaysian television, which to many is just for the government to relay information to the public, and for the stations to broadcast programs of all sorts to enable them to earn as much advertising revenue as possible. However, this is often done without due care.
          The end result is that we, as a people of many diverse racial backgrounds and interesting peculiarities, are still strangers amongst ourselves and can be said to be unfamiliar with our different and sometimes strange likes and dislikes.
          We only relate with each other socially bumping in the streets without really caring or too concerned about each other’s presence and concerns.
          I cannot watch television if I want to see the faces of our Chinese and Indian friends and those of the other minor races and groups that we have in the country. For they are not represented on television, except for the faces of the broadcasters who read the news bulletin or who appear in some talk shows and other minor programs.
          And I cannot fully appreciate the fact that Malaysian television still, after forty-four years of its existence, favors to promote alien faces on the screen – the faces of the Chinese, Indians and the Americans, in particular, as opposed to the Malaysians of all races.
          The problem is that Malaysian television, since its inception in 1963 has become more of a tool for the stations to over-promote alien cultures, peoples and their ways which often come with their peculiar social, cultural as well as psychology.
          The main problem is because many of those who operate these stations are not fully qualified, or those who have the necessary academic qualification and professional experience to run any television station. They end up doing what their predecessors had done, i.e. by going to the film and television markets in Europe, America and Hong Kong to buy all sorts of programs by the busloads, so to speak, so that they can show them throughout the year.
          What they are doing in effect is to continue encouraging Malaysians to be lazy to produce their own home-bred programs of all types and sorts, so we can become self-sufficient in television programming, while they cruise along easy street without having to worry about getting enough programs to show on their television.
          How naive of them! Don’t they realize what they are doing which is also to promote the television and film industries of those countries while helping them to create more employment to their creative people?
          What these television stations and their executives are doing is to lower their personal stature and become lackeys for the program producers in Hong Kong, India and America and causing the development of the Malaysian culture on the ‘sleep mode’.
          Is this what they want to be called? Can’t they use their televisions to promote the development of local talent so they can come up with more meaningful programs that are liked by viewers of all races, instead of breaking them into the three major groups plus the Americanized viewers, by showing programs for the Malays, Chinese, Indians and the English-speaking Malaysians and those who are fascinated with things American or western?
          It was I who asked why the stations had broken the programs in this country in the ‘Malay, Chinese, Indian and American belts’. They later turned the same four belts into colors or imageries that still reflect their racial backgrounds.
          This set up clearly shows the unconscious act by the television stations, acting in concert with their advertising agencies to segregate the viewers in this country into the three major racial groups plus the American or western group.
          I wish to see the Malaysian belts to replace all those belts so all the major programs of all sorts that are broadcast everyday on Malaysian television can be appreciated by all Malaysians regardless of who they are.
          If this cannot be done, then there is no hope for anyone in this country to use the medium of television to bring all Malaysians together, so that in time we will be able to look at each other more and appreciate who we are, without having to look in such awe of those from Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, India and especially, America. 
          This may be good if we only wish to study how those who live in other countries are doing and it is only necessary for us to know them, but up to a certain point, beyond which we have to start to turn around and look back at our own selves.
And this is where Malaysian can be said to have been negligent. It may have also created insecurities amongst many Malaysians, which should not have happened in the first place.
          In short, the Malays have not seen or looked at the other races, especially the Chinese and Indians good enough to really and truly appreciate who they are.
          The same can be said of the non-Malays who are always looking elsewhere especially at the Chinese, Indians and Americans and other foreigners, that they simply do not have time to appreciate what the Malays have to offer them.
          Malaysian television, I dare say, you are one of the major reasons why Malaysians hardly look at each other.
The television stations have only showed programs from Hong Kong, India and America, so that over the decades, many Malaysians find those who are portrayed in the television dramas and other entertainment programs interesting.
          The Malays, have also found it difficult to fully relate to the Chinese and Indians in this country, while watching television because the Chinese and Indians that we always see on television are not those who are amongst us, Malaysians, but foreigners, from Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and lately ‘Chinese’ from South Korea; and Indians from Mumbai and India, who are all alien to the Malays, whom the Malays can not relate to or fully understand what they really want, other than to sing and dance and other times cry over petty social and cultural issues.
          The worst culprit is Malaysian radio which is conveniently introduced to support the notion that in order to operate a radio station, they have to appeal to just one particular race, instead of all of them.
          The print media is also responsible for the racial division where the English-language publications often over-promote foreign cultures, especially those from Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, India and America, too, like without them, Malaysians will be uncultured and whose worldview will be shallow.
          What we can all see in our newspapers especially the English-language and vernacular ones are news and other stories on foreigners in their own countries, but less on Malaysians.
          It seems that Malaysians make news only when they are involved in any type of personal or group tragedies or if there is a scandal of any sort. The types of news Malaysians can make are very limited. We have to be foolish to get into the newspapers.
          If we are smart, there is little likelihood for it to be highlighted by the local media, which are too eager to publish even gossips of foreign artistes whom we do not know of, especially those that relate to their unhealthy and immoral lifestyles.
          One particular English language tabloid is so fascinated and excited to act on behalf of the western fashion designers, like they are paid to do the job of promoting their clothes brands. This paper hardly publishes stories on the Malays except those who face tragedies of any sort.
          Malaysian television has caused a major flaw in the psyche and thinking of all Malaysians regardless of whether they are Malays, Chinese, Indians or the others.
          Malaysians must be made to fully appreciate each other’s peculiarities in the media and on television and radio everyday and not just when there are religious and cultural or nationalistic festivals, where we would gather to eat together.
          We must see ourselves more on television and in the cinema.

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