Malaysia cannot reverse the national decline and become a great world-class nation if “media illiterates” could be elected MPs or have doctorates conferred on them by local universities

Yesterday, I asked the question whether it is possible to reverse the national decline to become a great world-class nation.

One answer is obvious: Malaysia cannot reverse the national decline to become a great world-class nation if those who are “media illiterates” can become Members of Parliament or have doctorates conferred on them by local universities in the country.

The MP for Kepala Batas is a classic case of a “media illiterate”.

How she can become a Member of Parliament, and what is most shocking of all, had a doctorate of philosophy conferred on her does no credit to either Malaysia or the university concerned.

In this age of information, there is a need for MPs and those conferred doctorates to be media literate.

“Media literacy” is an expanded conceptualization of literacy that includes the ability to access and analyze media messages as well as create, reflect, and take action, using the power of information and communication to make a difference in the world.

Media literacy is not restricted to one medium and is understood as a set of competencies that are essential for work, life, and citizenship.

Media literacy education is the process used to advance media literacy competencies, and it is intended to promote awareness of media influence and create an active stance towards both consuming and creating media.

Media literacy education is part of the curriculum in the United States and some European Union countries, and I recommend to the Education Minister, Fadhlina Sidek to introduce media literacy in the schools so that our school children, not only those in the universities, do not become “media illiterates” and can discern what are propaganda, censorship, and bias in news and public affairs programmes.

As defined by The Core Principles of Media Literacy Education, “the purpose of media literacy education is to help individuals of all ages develop the habits of inquiry and skills of expression that they need to be critical thinkers, effective communicators, and active citizens in today’s world.”

It is most shocking that a Malaysian MP and one with a doctorate can be so media illiterate so spout lies, untruths, and fake news.

I commend that education about media literacy begin in early childhood by developing a pedagogy around more critical thinking and deeper analysis, and questioning of concepts and texts. As students age and enter adulthood, the use of learning media literacy will be impactful in identifying ethical and technical standards in media as well as understanding how media ties to their cognitive, social, and emotional needs.

It is of interest that UNESCO has investigated which countries were incorporating media studies into different schools’ curricula as a means to develop new initiatives in the field of media education. Relying on 72 experts on media education in 52 countries around the world, the study identified that

  1. media literacy occurs inside the context of formal education;
  2. it generally relies of partnerships with media industries and media regulators; and
  3. there is a robust research community who have examined the needs of educators and obstacles to future development.

Although progress around the world is uneven, all respondents realized the importance of media education, as well as the need for formal recognition from their government and policymakers.


(Media Statement by DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Friday, 10th November 2023)

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