Macquarie University
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Medium of instruction (MOI) policy as a symptom of nationhood: a critical analysis of the MOI policy discourses in Malaysia

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posted on 2022-03-28, 03:09 authored by Mahmud Hasan Khan
The aim of this research was to explain the discursive ‘rules’ of the construction of the medium of instruction (MOI) policy in Malaysia. The study of rules includes an exploration of the discursive techniques (e.g., intertextuality and interdiscursivity) employed by various individuals in their construction of the MOI policy debates in Malaysia. The discourse data obtained was collected from (1) the national parliament archives and (2) the archives of a selected number of mainstream and non-mainstream news media in Malaysia. The analysis focused on a specific MOI policy, i.e., PPSMI (Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Sains dan Matematik Dalam Bahasa Inggeris tr. Teaching of Mathematics and Science in English) Policy that ran for six years (2003-2009). The discourse was analysed based on critical discourse analysis (Fairclough, 2001, 2009, 2013). The thesis explains the micro features within the textual formations and the macro features or the ‘conditions of possibility’ of textual formations. The analysis shows that the discursive formations were effects of local realities constructed in political terms. These formations were also effects of external factors, like the rise of English in the contemporary world. The analysis also shows that the members of the parliament and the writers of the newspaper articles made frequent reference to the global and local ‘realities’ in order to perspectivize (Reisigl &Wodak, 2009) and to legitimize (van Leewuen, 1999, 2008) their claims. The pro-policy individuals in their arguments minimized the foreign-ness associated with English in Malaysia. In their discourses English was constructed as a language of opportunity. Other constructions foregrounded were discourses of globalization, open market, modernity and so on. The anti-policy discourse on the other hand used the occasion of policy debates as an opportunity to address various socio-political antagonisms within the country. The pro and the anti-policy statements in Malaysia appeared to be a ‘symptom’ of a multilingual and multiethnic nationhood with large minorities.


Table of Contents

Chapter One. Introduction -- Chapter Two. MOI policy debates and the ethno-political context of Malaysia -- Chapter Three. Language and MOI policy studies in Malaysia and beyond -- Chapter Four. Conceptual framework or theoretical underpinnings -- Chapter Five. Data and methods of data analysis -- Chapter Six. Contesting MOI policy in the Parliament : pro-Malay discourses -- Chapter Seven. Contesting MOI policy in the Parliament : pro-Chinese discourses -- Chapter Eight. Media representation of MOI policy -- Chapter Nine. Conclusions and recommendations -- Bibliography -- Appendix.


Bibliography: pages 248-270 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Alan Jones

Additional Supervisor 1

Christopher N. Candlin


Copyright Mahmud Hasan Khan 2016. Copyright disclaimer:






1 online resource (x, 271 pages)

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