Political Discourse Contiguous with Malaysia’s National Culture Policy

Authors: Siti Fatihah Selamat , Mansoureh Ebrahimi (Universiti Teknologi Malaysia)
Speaker: Mansoureh Ebrahimi
Strand: Discourse Analysis
Session Type: General Session


This paper adopts political discourse analysis (PDA) on a corpus of selected speeches and reports surrounding national culture and National Culture Policy (NCP) in Malaysia. The analysis focuses on the period between 1971, the year of NCP’s inception until 1991, the year which vision 2020 was introduced by Tun Mahathir Mohamad during which the country was facing rapid globalization and Islamization. The selected period shows decades long of power struggle manifests by the UMNO-led government to restore stability and its hegemony, especially post 13th May 1969 incident – one of the traumatic racial riots in Malaysia. The period also witnesses the government’s focus from establishing or enforcing Malay hegemony, shifting towards a more Islamic approach at the end of 20th century. This paper aims to discuss the evolution of speeches by UMNO political actors in the usage of terms such as ‘kebudayaan kebangsaan’ (national culture), ‘rantau ini’ (this region), and ‘bangsa Malaysia’ (Malaysian nation), along the history of establishing national culture and NCP; and its relationship with UMNO’s ideologies and its power struggle, with the realities of globalization and Islamization between 1971 until 1991. This paper uses process tracing method, examining causal inferences along the selected historical period, examining the aforementioned evolution in the political actors’ speeches.

Keywords: political discourse, national culture, National Culture Policy (NCP), The United Malays National Organization (UMNO), Malaysia