Diplomacy in Reporting: The Sulu Conflict in East Borneo

Sharon Wilson, Faridah Ibrahim


There is a continuous diplomatic cooperation between Malaysia and Philippines especially in relation to its involvement in a regional group called ASEAN. Nevertheless, there exist tensions and conflict with the emergence of a secessionist movement among the Philippines minority who insist on claiming territorial rights of Sabah.  The February 2013 insurgency at Kampung Tanduo, Lahat Datu caused a conflict and triggered a bloody battle. Using in-depth interviews, document analysis and secondary data, this study explores the intensity in which journalists, Malaysian and Philippines were positioned in discovering the problems and challenged faced in gathering and reporting information as well as the decisions made during this time. It was found that the most critical aspect of decision making derives from professional ethics which govern the individuals. It is clear that the crime reporters’ loyalties lie not just to the profession but also to the people who employ them. The study has also successfully provided information which could be a source of reference for media practitioners and academicians and gives understanding not just the decision making of the reporter but the function and ethical aspects of reporting in a sensational field like conflict and war zones. This study can serve as a model for evaluation when implementing policies and training and the findings can be used by advisory committees especially in addressing issues of journalists reporting on national security.


Keywords: Conflict, peace, intrusion, interviews, diplomacy.

Full Text:



Amiynyi, O. P., Onyebadi, U., & Tahat, K. M. (2013). Framing conflicts in Africa: A comparative analysis of United States and United Kingdom news outlets. International Communication Research Journal, 48(3-4), 52-70.

Anheier, H. K., & Isar, Y. R. (Eds.). (2007). Cultures and globalization: Conflicts and tensions. Sage.

Anom, E., Kee, M. D. C. P., & Zawawi, J. W. M. (2014). Political discourse in Indonesia and Malaysia for National Human Security: A case study of Lahad Datu. Jurnal Komunikasi, Malaysian Journal of Communication, 30(2).

Bowie, N. (2013). U.S. Dirty Tricks: Malaysia faces uncertain war in Sabah. Global Research March 10th. Retrieved from https://www.globalresearch.ca/us-dirty-tricks-malaysia-faces-uncertain-war-in-sabah/5326000.

Elmasry, M. H., El Shamy, A., Manning, P., Mills, A., & Auter, P. J. (2013). Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya framing of the Israel-Palestine conflict during war and calm periods. International Communication Gazette, 75(8), 750-768.

Fair, J. E. (2000). The media of conflict: War reporting and representations of ethnic violence (review). Africa Today, 47(2), 176-178.

Faridah Ibrahim. (2008). Global media versus peace journalism. Journal of Media Information Warfare, 1, 81-105.

Faridah Ibrahim. (2017). Peace journalism and the Muslim world. Paper presented at International Conference on Islam, Media and Communication (ICIMaC2017) organized by Communication and New Media Programs 8-9 August 2017, Faculty of Leadership and Management, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, Negeri Sembilan.

Galtung, J. (1992). Social Alternatives, 11(1), 8-11.

Gandy, O. H. (1982). Beyond agenda-setting: Information subsidy. New York: Ablex Publishing Co.

Hayakawa, S. I. (1979). Language in thoughts and action. New York: Hasting House.

Jan, M., & Khan, M. R. (2011). Peace journalism and conflict reporting: The case of Pakistani media. South Asian Studies, 26(2), 311-324.

Kothari, A. (2010). The framing of the Darfur conflict in the New York Times: 2003-2006. Journalism Studies, 11(2), 209-224.

Lee, S. T. (2010). Peace journalism: Principles and structural limitations in the news coverage of three conflicts. Mass Communication & Society, 13(4), 361-384.

Lynch, J., & Goldrick, A. (2005). Peace journalism. Stroud: Hawthorn Press.

Maslog, C., & Lee, S. T. (2005). War and peace journalism? Asian newspaper coverage of conflicts. Journal of Communication, 55(2), 311-329.

Mohd Rajib Ab Ghani, & Taylor, P. M. (2006). Strategic communication and information warfare. Shah Alam: CMIWS, UiTM.

Mohd Safar Hasim. (2004). Akhbar dan kuasa: Perkembangan sistem akhbar di Malaysia sejak 1806. Kuala Lumpur: Universiti Malaya.

Smith, J. M. (1989). International cultural relations. London: Allen and Unwin.

Tanner, S., Phillips, G., Smyth, C., & Tapsall, S. (2005). Journalism ethics at work. Asia Pacific Media Educator, 16, 123.

Tønnessen, H., & Kolstø, P. (2012). Journalistic identities and war reporting: Coverage of the 2008 Russian-Georgian War in the Russian press. Scando-Slavica, 58(1), 101-121.

Tuman, J. S. (2003). Communicating terror: The rhetorical dimensions of terrorism. London: Sage.

Vitug, M. S. (2008). Media and conflict in the Philippines. In Tekwani, S. (Ed.), Media and conflict reporting in Asia. Asian Media Information and Communication Center, 3, 17-30.

Wilson, S., Faridah Ibrahim, Latiffah Pawanteh, & Mus Chairil Samani. (2012). West meets East: Analysis of reporters ethical decision making process. In Faridah Ibrahim, Samsuddin Rahim, Wan Amizah & Normah

Mustaffa (Eds.), Communication and transformation: Progress and paradox (pp. 163-180). Bangi: UKM.

Zaharom Nain, & Kim, W. L. (2000). Ownership, control and the Malaysian Media. In Thomas, P. N., & Zaharom Naim (Eds), Who owns the media (pp. 249-270). Penang: Southbound Sdn Bhd.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

e-ISSN: 2289-1528