GE 13: The Influence of Ethnic Newspapers in Shaping the Opinion of Indian and Chinese Voters

Zeti Azreen Ahmad, Ismail S. Y. Ahmed, Hartini Wakichan, Hazwani Halem, Siti Haslina Hussin, Mutiu Adekunle Ganiyu


This paper attempts to assess the role of Tamil and Chinese newspapers in exerting influence on Indian and Chinese voters, before and after Malaysia’s 2013 General Election (GE13). This study employs both content analysis and survey to examine media agenda and public agenda specifically the Chinese and Indian ethnic groups. In total, 4,951 news items were obtained from two major language newspapers comprising Sin Chew, Nanyang Siang Pau, Tamil Nesan and Malaysia Nanban, during the election campaign period. These news items have been coded according to seventeen categories. A total of 754 Chinese and 183 Indians had participated in the public opinion survey conducted before the general election, and a total of 618 Chinese and 122 Indians responded after the general election. This study found that both Tamil and Chinese newspapers did not influence the agenda of the Chinese and Indian respondents nationwide. Politics appeared as the top issue reported in both ethnic newspapers while crime appeared as the most important issue of concern to both Chinese and Indian respondents.

Full Text:



Azahar, K. & Azizuddin, M.S. 2016. The 2013 general election in Malaysia: An analysis of online newsportal. Kasetsart Journal of Social Sciences 37(2): 119-125.

Colistra, R. 2012. Shaping and cutting the media agenda: Television reporters’ perceptions of agenda-and frame-building and agenda-cutting influences. Journalism & Communication Monographs, 14(2), 85-146. doi: 10.1177/1522637912444106

Department of Statistics. 2016. Population projection (revised), Malaysia, 2010-2040. Retrieved from

Faridah Ibrahim, Chang, P. K. & Kuik, C. C. 2012. Ethnic media and nation-building in Malaysia: Issues, perceptions and challenges. Bangi: Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

Goh, Lisa. 2013. Nanyang stands strong 90 years on. The Star Online, 1 September. Retrieved on: 23 February 2015.

Idid, S. A. 2011. Peranan Media Massa Dalam Pilihan Raya Umum. Selangor: IIUM Press.

Idid, S. A. 2014. The young Malaysian voters. In Scholarship in Transformation, edited by Faridah Ibrahim & Chang Peng Kee, 235-256. Bangi: Media and Democracy Research Group.

Idid, S. A. & Buyong, M. 1995. Malaysia’s General Election 1995: People issues and media use. Bangi: Jabatan Komunikasi UKM & The Asia Foundation.

Idid, S. A., & Chang, P.K. 2012. The media and public agenda among the Malay and Chinese communities during the 2008 Malaysian General Elections. Asian Social Science 8(5): 107-115.

Jeniri Amir & Hamedi Mohd Adnan. 2013. Harakah pada zaman pemerintahan Mahathir: Peranan dan cabaran. Malaysian Journal of Media Studies 15(1): 129-141.

Jocelyn, H.P.Z., Ibrahim, F. & Chang, P. K. 2011. Revisiting media attention score: Evolution of Sin Chew Daily’s newspaper design. Malaysian Journal of Communication 27(2): 59-75.

Kiousis, S. 2005. Compelling arguments and attitude strength exploring the impact of second-level agenda setting on public opinion of presidential candidate images. The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics 10(2): 3-27.

doi: 10.1177/1081180X05276095.

Kumar, N. 2012. A new Tamil newspaper in the offing. Free Malaysia Today, 13 July. Retrieved from

Kumar, N. 2013. Tamil newspapers owners prefer monopoly, says new player. Free Malaysia Today, 15 January. Retrieved from

Lent, J. A. 1974. Malaysian Chinese and their mass media: History and survey. Asian Profile 2(4): 397-412.

McCombs, M.E., & Shaw, D. L. 1993. The evolution of agenda setting research: Twenty-five years in the marketplace of ideas. Journal of Communication 43(2): 58-67.

Media Planning Guide Malaysia. 2014. Kuala Lumpur: Perception Media.

Media Planning Guide Malaysia. 2016. Kuala Lumpur: Perception Media.

Media Prima Berhad. 2016. Annual Report. Retrieved from

Mohamed Hashim. 2006. The future of the newspaper industry in Malaysia in the era of global media and global culture. Malaysian Journal of Communication 22: 155-161.

Mus Chairil Samani, Jamilah Maliki, Mohd Helmi Abd. Rahim, Mat Pauzi Abd. Rahman & Normah Mustaffa. 2015. The media agenda of the new and traditional media in Malaysia: Constructing realities. e-Bangi: Journal of Human Sciences and Humanities 10 (Special Issue 1): 49-57.

Ngiam, S. P. 2017. Nanyang Siang Pau. Retrieved from

Ragas, M. W. & Roberts, M. S. 2009. Agenda setting and agenda melding in an age of horizontal and vertical media: A new theoretical lens for virtual brand communities. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 86(1): 45-64.

Rita Sim. 2015. From local to global: The Sin Chew experience. Presented at From Local to Global, the Sin Chew Experience, organised by the Centre for Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Responsibility in Business (CSDCSR) and Faculty of Accountancy and Management (FAM), 29 June, UTAR Sungai Long Campus.

Salman, A., Mustaffa, N., Mohd Salleh, M. A. & Ali, M.N.S. 2016. Social media and agenda setting: Implications on political agenda. Malaysian Journal of Communication 32(1): 607-623.

Sathisan, D. 2008. The power of print: Tamil newspaper in Malaya and the imagining of Tamil cultural identity. Ph.D. Dissertation, National University of Singapore.

Severin, W. & Tankard, J. 2010. Communication Theories: Origin, Methods and uses in the Mass Media. London: Pearson.

Shaari, H., Ngu, T. H., & Raman, V. 2006. Covering race and religion: The Moorthy and Nyonya Tahir cases in four Malaysian newspapers. Kajian Malaysia 14(1&2): 185-201.

Shamsiah Abd Kadir & Ahmad Saufiyyan Abu Hasan. 2014. A content analysis of propaganda in Harakah newspaper. Journal of Media and Information Warfare 5: 73-116.

Shanmuganathan, T & Krishnan Ramasamy. 2009. The social and cultural impact factors in Tamil advertisements. Polyglossia 17: 41-58.

Sin Chew Daily. 2017. Retrieved on: 16 March 2016.

Tham, J. S., & Hasmah, Z. 2014. Malaysia’s 13th general election: Political communication and public agenda in social media. Asian Journal for Public Opinion Research 1(2): 73-89.

The Rocket. 2015. A brief history of press freedom crackdown. https://www.the freedom-crackdown/. Retrieved on: 16 March 2016.

Tschacher, T. 2013. For the promoting of Tamil on this island: Penang Muslims and Tamil vernacular publics across the Bay of Bengal, 1880-1914. The Penang Story Lecture Series. 24 August.

Vinesh, D. 2013. The origins of Tamil newspapers in Penang. The Star Online, 7 October. Retrieved from

Wanta, W., Golan, G., & Lee, C. 2004. Agenda setting and international news: Media influence on public perceptions of foreign nations. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 81(2): 364-377.

Yang, L. F. & Ishak, M.S.A. 2011. Framing religious disputes: A comparative analysis of the Lina Joy controversy reported by Malaysian newspapers. The Journal of the South East Asia Research Center for Communication and Humanities 3(2): 21-37.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

e-ISSN: 2289-1528