Political and Cultural Representation in Malaysian Websites
Adrian Min Choy Tong, Keith Stuart Robertson


Acknowledging cultural differences in the development of visual interface design is an important factor in many multicultural settings. This research investigates the cultural and ethnic mix of Malaysia by taking an official government website as a case study. In Malaysia, Malays, Chinese and Indians live in a pluralistic society but are treated by the government as separate communities. Each ethnic group has been able to retain its cultural identity through maintaining and being allowed to maintain their individual languages, religion and traditions. Malaysia's brand of multiculturalism endeavours to consider diversity as a positive resource, with government policy promoting tolerance between the major ethnic groups to maintain a harmonious and unified society. Vision 2020 has been initiated by the Malay Government to fulfill this goal of promoting intercultural understanding within Malaysia's multi-ethnic society. This research investigates effective strategies for the development of a truly representative visual interface design within a multicultural context in the spirit of Vision 2020. This project adopts Power Distance (PD) from Hoftstede's model of cultural analysis, and Aaron Marcus's approach to multi-dimensional web-interface analysis to identify current representations of multicultural Malaysia. "Cultural Markers" and case study analysis are used to investigate cultural inclusion and to accommodate a more accurate expression of revised government policy.

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