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Greenwashing the Star

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So the Star has gone “green” to mark World Environment Day on 5 June. But beneath this superficial green facade, the contradictions faced by the paper, which is very much part of the corporate media, soon become obvious to the discerning reader.

Its cover story in the Sunday Star (3 June 2007) highlights the declining catch of fish from the seas. On Page N5, it has come up with a list of 20 possible things, individual Malaysians can do to go green. All well and good.

But there is no list of pledges for Corporate Malaysia. One would think only individual Malaysians are responsible for environmental degradation and global warming and that the corporations have nothing to do with it.

This ties in with the mantra that environmental degradation and global warming are due to vague “human activities” and nothing to do with policy goals that call for relentless economic growth and promote corporate-led globalisation. This model of globalisation is driven by transnational corporations and huge firms that spend vast sums of money on marketing and advertising to stimulate consumer demand for more goods, which in turn depletes natural resources and heats up the planet. There is no attempt to discuss or analyse this.

Newspapers like the Star are very much part of the system. Their main income is derived from advertising, which promotes consumerism and materialism rather than the simplicity and renunciation that is required to reverse environmental chaos.

This contraction between the green rhetoric and consumerist journalism couldn't be more obvious when you look further inside the Sunday Star to find the paper's Motoring pull-out, which actively promotes a host of petrol-guzzling luxury cars and SUVs. Inside this pull-out is another pull-out on Education with the title “Go green”. The irony is obviously lost on the paper's editors.

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On the whole, there is no concerted drive to encourage people to ignore the marketing and promotion activities of the major corporations and drastically reduce consumption. For that would conflict with the Star's own profit-maximisation goal. 

Unless the paper can come up with a more honest critique of the role played by our consumer-driven economic system and "green" corporate propaganda in camouflaging vested interests, the paper's efforts at going green can at best be described as "greenwashing".  


The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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