1. Consider the history of media effects presented in Chapter 3. Choose one historical media event that has occurred in the country of your choice. How has your chosen historical media event opened up a larger discourse about a social issue? Did the issue create conversion or reinforcement of public opinion about the social issue represented in the media event? Support your answer with reference from the text. With reference to the case of Mas Selamat Kastari who was believed to be involved in the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) group in plotting terrorism activities in Singapore such as crashing a plane into Changi Airport .
He was Singapore’s most wanted fugitive for more than a year after escaping from detention on 27 February 2008. Since then, it was the largest manhunt ever carried out in Singapore, furthermore daily local newspapers, TV news report, posters also tried to raise public awareness about Mas Selamat through repeated news coverage. Hence, with the aid of mass media, Mas Selamat was certainly the hottest topic everywhere and eventually became the historical media event that opened up a larger discourse about terrorism which was a social issue ever since 1963.
In the early 80s, the government had implemented a series of measures to counter terrorism in Singapore and after 1991 Singapore has not experience any terrorism therefore resulting in the citizens letting down their guard and eventually the issue on terrorism was taken lightly. With reference to agenda setting theory which explains the powerful influence mass media have in telling us what issues are important, the case of Mas Selamat involving the massive usage of mass media had successfully trigger the fear in the minds of the citizens and the issue on terrorism(security matters) became increasingly important during that period of time.
Many citizens wrote in to Straits Times claiming that the government deserved to be blamed for the escape of Mas Selamat and if terrorism will to happen in Singapore. Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew responded to the Straits Times: “Mas Selamat Kastari was ‘an escape artist’ who had evaded arrest many times, and Singapore’s security officers knew this, when you are complacent in handling a wily detainee, then you have been negligent. He also added that,” complacency sets in when people have not suffered any shock or setback for a long time and Singaporeans are being complacent when they believe that the Government will take care of all security matters. ” PAP MP Lim Wee Kiak referred complacency as a ‘side-effect’ of an overly successful Government and civil service. (“Straits Times”, 2008). From this historical media event, we can see the impact of media in creating conversion of the public opinion. The public’s attitude towards terrorism (security matters) changed from a dependent on the government to a self-dependent one after the escape of Mas Selamat .
Furthermore, according to the public opinions on Singapore forum after the capture of Mas Selamat in 2009, although some were still debating on whether is the Government of Singapore doing enough to protect us from terrorism, but majority strongly believed that Singaporeans should not delude ourselves into thinking that our government is infallible as our government can only do so much-implementing counter terrorism measures, awareness posters and videos in train stations and public transports .
Hence, the more relevant questions to ask ourselves – Are we Singaporeans doing enough to protect ourselves from terrorism? Are we coming together as one nation to do our national service in learning and protecting our country, life and property? The citizens of Singapore should not just solely rely on the government but also play our part in preventing the threat of terrorism.