The University of Arizona

Malaysia: the persuasive discourse techniques of a transnational mining corporation and its supporters

Kai-Lit Phua, Simon Barraclough

Abstract


Persuasion, a vital element in commercial marketing, is also an essential tool for the winning and maintenance of political power. Corporations seek to persuade customers to purchase their products and services but may also need to influence wider public opinion and political decision-makers in ways that serve their interests. In this article, we present an account of environmental-related conflict in Malaysia and the use of persuasion in the discourse of an Australian transnational mining corporation and its supporters. We analyse the strategies used by the corporation as it engages in intense conflict with environmental campaigners and concerned residents following its moves to establish the world's largest rare earth metals extraction plant in peninsular Malaysia. Following the political ecology perspective, we note that the efforts at persuasion used by the corporation have been actively backed by the Malaysian state itself. This is not simply a case of environmental conflict but strongly connected to the underlying political economy of Malaysia - a country with an authoritarian regime where corruption and 'crony capitalism' are rife, and public opinion is often ignored or consistently manipulated by government-controlled mass media.

Keywords: environmental-related conflict, rare earth, persuasion techniques, Malaysia


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2458/v23i1.20218