Television has been a state privilege in Malaysia since independence from British rule in 1957 and instrumental in Malaysia’s attempt to fashion and display public culture. RTM (Radio Television Malaysia) has functioned as a state mouthpiece, since 1963, most often representing deep differences between ethnic groups, and in the process manufacturing sacred and non-sacred circuits of cultures. Under a one-party, Malay-dominated, national coalition rule since independence, state television tends to reflect Malay culture in hegemonic and monolithic terms, failing to represent diverse differences within and between various ethnic and indigenous groups in Malaysia. The article explores how the state strategizes public and private television in manufacturing a public culture, arguing that the Vision 2020 desire to create a public Malay(sian) culture for polyethnic and multireligious Malaysia seems a myth mediated through polarized spheres. If state television is public service broadcasting (PSB), then it is clear that it is a utopia yet to arrive in postcolonial nations such as Malaysia.
International Communication Gazette / Vol. 68, No. 4, pp.347-361