In this assignment, we have chosen the acceptance of capital punishment as our topic. As we fully support capital punishment, we will talk about the reasons behind why we support it and how capital punishment can benefit the Malaysian community. In layman terms, capital punishment is also known as death penalty, which a criminal is killed for commiting a serious crime.
In Malaysia, capital punishment is compulsory to be apply on any criminal who involves in crimes like kidnapping, murder, illegal drug trade, or owning any firearms. And it is obligatory or optional for other crimes depending on the level of violation of law. Capital punishment in Malaysia is practiced by hanging a weighted criminal to death. According to BBC News, in 2017 there are 106 countries have abolished capital punishment while 92 other countries still practicing capital punishment. The ethics of capital punishment has always been a hot topic ever since capital punishment was introduced. The opposition who do not support capital punishment states that it is morally incorrect to take people’s life under any circumstance even though they commit serious crime.
Malaysia is still one of the countries that still running capital punishment although Malaysia once planned to abolish capital punishment in October 2018, however, in the end still announced to remain practicing capital punishment in May 2019. While there are many arguments regarding whether to necessary to accept or reject capital punishment. We believe that capital punishment must be support and practice throughout Malaysia as it represents justice and reduce crime rates.
With the will of supporting the capital punishment in mind, we are going to propose different media strategies to accept and support capital punishment.
2.0 Media Strategies
Campaign is one of the most popular choices among all media strategies, and it can be seen almost everywhere whenever people are raising public awareness. Campaigns such as public communications campaigns, public information campaigns, media campaigns, and public education campaigns are also commonly used to stimulate people’s way of thinking and behaviour change (Bloomfield, Bommarito and Kuhl, 2015). Public awareness campaign plays an important role when it comes to promoting changes in attitude and behaviour of an individual or a society. Organizing an awareness campaign can emphasize the importance and benefits of capital punishment to Malaysians, especially for those who disagree practicing capital punishment. For the campaign, the importance of capital punishment will be heavily stressed-out in television advertisements, billboards, brochures, social media, and cross media posts. A good campaign which effectively and efficiently changes people’s way of thinking is that campaigns comes with 3 important principles which is credibility, stories, and emotion (Bloomfield, Bommarito and Kuhl, 2015). For implementing the first principle, credibility, for our awareness campaign, we feature famous politicians to show the statistics of crime rates reduction with capital punishment in the television advertisements. The last 2 principle of stories and emotion will be carried out by inviting celebrities and social influencers to talk about the importance of capital punishment in social media and cross media posts. These awareness campaigns will make positive changes towards the public opinions towards the acceptance and support of capital punishment.
White propaganda will put into practice with the media strategy of campaign. We gain the public’s confidence as white propaganda stands for the public trusts towards a source for its truthiness, accuracy, and transparency. We deeply believe capital punishment will reduce crime rates in Malaysia. As the majority of people have the fear of death, Malaysians will have to consider twice before they are likely to perform any illegal actions when they realise that death is the only outcome that awaits them if they commit crime. Thus, capital punishment helps Malaysians to stay away from committing crimes such as performing drug trafficking and extreme violence. In the book of The Death Penalty In Malaysia: Public opinion on the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking, murder and firearms offences, Robert states that the practice of capital punishment has benefited Malaysia by reducing very violent crimes from 25% to 9% and reduce trafficking illegal drugs cases from 24% to 16% (Hood, 2013). Agreeing to a famous quote from an Indian activist Mahatma Gandhi, he once said “an eye for an eye”, meaning that a criminal should be punished to an indistinguishable degree like how he had injured the victim. We deeply believe that justice is better served with capital punishment, as the most basic concept of justice is to serve equality and genuine respect to all people. It makes perfect sense that a criminal who committed murder to have death as his punishment.
All of these important points of practicing capital punishment will definitely be being presented in the campaign to make the public to be aware of the importance of capital punishment.
Media has the power to impact its targeted audiences emotionally and physically. Educational posters and videos will be posted in news websites and social media in order to create and strengthen the bond with the public. The contents of the posters and videos, are the necessity of capital punishment and also include how capital punishment can reduce crime, and eventually lead the country into a better environment to live in. The propaganda technique imply for this campaign is false connection, in specific, testimonial. Testimonial technique refers to the usage of a professional individual to amplify credibility and image towards the campaign, which lead to increase persuasiveness. An example of the video can be a short video of interviewing victims who suffer from losing a family member or friend in a murder case and talk about how capital punishment bring justice to them and their family members. In addition, videos like having the Inspector-General of Police, Abdul Hamid Bador, showing statistics of the reduction of crime rates year by year with the practice of capital punishment. Inspector Abdul Hamid Bador has solved multiple of crime cases before, and he is a policeman, a symbol of justice, his image can gain the public’s trust and admiration effortlessly. Thus, having Inspector Abdul Hamid Bador is our media strategy. Experiences of the victims and the claims from the police both obtain utmost credibility of influence the public to support capital punishment.
2.2 Talk Show
The second media strategy that we apply in supporting capital punishment in Malaysia is carrying out a talk show. Talk shows is usually presented in television programme which consist a group of audience listening to a conversation or discussion of a TV host and a guest. The guests are usually celebrities, political figures, or any social influencer. Talk show can also presented in the format of radio programming, where a radio dj interviewing any guests like in the television talk show and having similar content too. The reason we apply talk show as our media strategy is because majority of people are more likely to believe the contents discussed in a talk show. This is because in a talk show, the presence of the host, guest, and the fellow audience creates a ‘serious’ atmosphere which makes people feel the topics they discuss and conclude are safe and reliable. The audiences in the talk show also often show emotional facial expression as a feedback towards whatever the host and guest are talking about, this also provides a sense of realism in talk shows. Certain talk shows have a section for anyone to call in to share their opinion towards the topic as discussed by the host and the guests, call in feature a further step of interaction between the audience with the host and the topic discussed. According to Ilie (2016), the audiences who attend talk shows are mostly interested towards the topic about the talk show and are usually knowledgeable about it too, this shows the professionalism and credibility of the talk show for the television audiences. Having talk shows with professionals like politicians to discuss and persuade audiences towards supporting capital punishment will bring positive effects towards the audiences as we believe the audiences will have the words from the host and guest in their mind.
Furthermore, the information of topic discussed in talk shows have high credibility as all the content discuss are all established from true real-life stories and real-life happenings accompanied along with true genuine data from professionals. With the words from the professionals and accurate information, these combinations will generate potent persuasive force to create awareness towards the public regarding the support of capital punishment.
As for propaganda, we use white propaganda to power our media strategy. White propaganda stands for only truths will be told from the talk show, and information provided by the talk show consists only facts and statistics. In short, white propaganda reduces the risk of subjective opinions from the audiences. Capital punishment plays an important role of solving the issue of overpopulation of prisoners in Taiping prison, the largest prison in Malaysia. Some prisons in Malaysia are overpopulated and in a financial point of view, overpopulation is a big concern. The Malaysian Government have to spend lots of money supplying rooms, food, drinks, clothes, and other expenses for the prisoners. Rahim from TheStarOnline reports that the average prisoner costs 35 Ringgit on food and other requirements per day (2013). There is a total of 35 prisons in Malaysia that can occupy 50,950 prisoners, the daily spending on these prisoners are 1,783,250 Ringgit per day from multiplying 50,950 prisoners to 35 Ringgit. In a year, the government have to spend 650,886,250 Ringgit only on prisoners. Rahim (2013), also reports that the Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar announced that the Malaysian government devotes 655.96 million Ringgits to the Prison Department in the year 2010, and that is more than what we calculated. So, capital punishment can help reduce the government’s spending on prisoners by avoiding overpopulation of prisoners, government then can use the remaining funds in a more useful way like developing the country. Hood (2013) mentions that capital punishment helps reduce 3% to 9% of cost spending in prison annually, and that little saving translates into approximately 39,357,600 Ringgit. With all these statistics, our talk show can feature the Deputy Home Minister and Inspector-General of Police as guests to have a discussion of how capital punishment can help reduce crime and reduce government’s annual spending on prisoners. Audiences with questions can also call in to ask the guests whatever they do not understand, and real time feedback will be provided by the Deputy Home Minister and Inspector-General of Police. With the accurate statistics presented by the most credible figures in the country, we believe out talk show can generate a big impact towards the audience to show more support to capital punishment.
The propaganda techniques used in this media strategy are testimonial and plain folks techniques. Testimonial technique can increase credibility and persuasiveness by inviting professional individuals to talk about something in a field which they are really good at. Testimonial technique can be seen as the invitation of Deputy Home Minister and Inspector-General of Police to discuss about capital punishment in our talk show. Plain folks technique is the technique of using a speaker voicing out his opinions or questions in the same status as a layman or like other audiences in the show. Plain folks technique can be seen in our talk show whenever a live audience asks questions directly or by calling into the studio. In the book Talk Shows, Ilie (2016) says that the interaction between the audience and the hosts or guests can stir up the atmosphere in the set and generate more curiosity of other audience and eventually lead to a more effective communication and understanding towards the topic discussed.
Our strategy is carried by the utilising magic bullet theory. Magic bullet theory describes how the media increases the audience’s knowledge by directly transit messages and information to the mind of the audience. The transmitted information are like bullets permanently stay inside the audience’s mind and causing “damage” which is actually the change in behaviour of the audience. In our talk show, the host and guests will talk about the benefits of practicing capital punishment, and how the Malaysian government did not abolish capital punishment in the end. In fact, the talk show mainly focused on the advantages of capital punishment and help build up the acknowledgement of the audience towards how capital punishment cut government’s cost and creates a safer society. The audience definitely will have brainstorm about capital punishment, and we are confident to convince the audience to support capital punishment with talk shows.
2.3 Short Clip
Finally, we have short film as our last media strategy. Like any movies, a short film projects sound effects and displays visual effects to fulfil the human’s sensory systems. Therefore, a short clip has high potential of gaining people’s attention and the public’s awareness.
We will film a short film showing the differences of 2 different countries, naming them Country A and Country B. Country A practices capital punishment while Country B does not implement capital punishment in their law system. The short film will then show how safe Country A is, as its citizens are living in a crime free society, and also living in an economically stronger country compare to Country B. Country B will show citizens living in an unsafe society which have high crime rates and serious crime issues like murder and drug trafficking.
The short film media strategy implies grey propaganda. Grey propaganda represents the transference of information and ideas which either be true or false. Because in reality, not all countries which practices capital punishment will have the same result as Country A in the short film due to many more possibilities and consequences. The outcome of Country A and Country B are presented just as what we are predicting on paper with the concept of the practice of capital punishment. The audiences who watched our short film will have the fear of having our country to end up like Country B. With that, the technique of Fear applies in our media strategy of short film. The technique of Fear reminds the audiences towards the fear factor in their minds, and that reminds them not to end up in the situation that they fear about. As a result, the audiences will always remember the outcome between Country A and Country B, this is also where our theory of Magic Bullet Theory kicks in. Magic Bullet Theory provides strong and effective message transmission towards people. Our short film utilises Magic Bullet Theory to display the outcome of practicing capital punishment and without practicing capital punishment.
In conclusion, we believe that our 3 media strategies of campaign, talk shows, and short film with the support of white and grey propaganda type and in addition with propaganda techniques like testimonial, plain folks, and magic bullet will help create public awareness towards the importance of capital punishment by stressing about strengthen justice, reduce crime rates, and cut down government’s cost on prison.
- BBC News, 2018. Death penalty: How many countries still have it? BBC News. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-45835584 [Accessed July 2, 2019].
- Bloomfield, C., Bommarito, R. and Kuhl, M. (2015). Public Awareness Campaigns. Supporting Military Families through Research and Outreach Public Awareness Campaigns. [online] Available at: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Supporting-Military-Families-through-Research-and-Bloomfield-Bommarito/74326da820ae48d452f08754e8b7d3cef0de969d [Accessed 3 Jul. 2019].
- Hood, R.G., 2013. The death penalty in Malaysia: public opinion on the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking, murder and firearms offences, London: The Death Penalty Project.
- Ilie, C., 2016. Talk Shows. Encyclopedia of Language & Linguistics, pp.489–494.
- Rahim, R., 2015. Parliament: It costs RM35 per prisoner per day – Nation: The Star Online. Nation | The Star Online. Available at: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2013/10/24/parliament-it-costs-rm35-per-prisoner-per-day/ [Accessed July 3, 2019].
- Williams, M.E., 2000. Capital punishment, San Diego: Greenhaven Press.