Confusion as an Ideological Tool in Malaysian Newspaper Op-Eds
Mahmud Hasan Khan and Moses Stephens Gunams Samuel
Abstract: This paper offers an analysis of the lexical item confusion in opinion-editorials published by a Malaysian newspaper. The data was collected from The Star, a Malaysian English daily, between 1 January 2009 and 30 June 2010. To contextualize, in April 2009, the previous Prime Minister departs and the country welcomes a new leader with an apparently nationalist identity discourse of 1Malaysia (Malaysia as an inclusive nation). This is also when religious debates surfaced regularly in the country’s courtrooms and media. The findings of the study reveal that the authors of op-eds used the lexical item, confusion, to articulate normative and non-normative positions regarding various religious issues in Malaysia (e.g., Allah controversy, Islamic jurisprudence and religious conversion). Those who argued for the normative view, confusion arose within the discursive space of the religion of Islam; while for those who argued against the normative view, confusion arose due to the differences between the religious and the secular positions. It is important to note that the construction of meaning depended on both the semantic field of the lexical item and the context of utterance. However, what is more crucial to follow is that the term confusion served as an ideological tool in the Malaysian context to further the agenda of those individuals who are representatives or spokespersons for specific ideological groups within a contested polity.
Keywords: Malaysia, Invariant Meaning, Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), Language and Religion, Ideology
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Published in September 2020