Highlights at Penang Institute

Countering Disinformation for a Healthier Democracy through TechCamp Malaysia 2022


On Saturday, 26 March 2022, Penang Chief Minister, YAB Chow Kon Yeow and US Ambassador to Malaysia Brian McFeeters celebrated the completion of TechCamp Malaysia 2022: Smart Journalism, Healthy Democracy” at Shangri-La Golden Sands, Penang.

Organised by Penang Institute with the support of the US Embassy, TechCamp Malaysia 2022 aims to provide emerging and mid-career journalists with the digital skills and tools to counter disinformation, particularly in the field of political and electoral reporting.

Throughout the three-day program from 24th to 26th March, 33 participants from various newsrooms in Malaysia engaged with speakers and industry experts from the US, Malaysia, and the ASEAN region. The program covered training on topics like fact-checking, data visualisation, social media for political reporting and more. On the final day of the program, participants had the opportunity to pitch their solutions to countering disinformation and apply for grants up to USD 6,000 to turn their ideas into action.

Executive Director of Penang Institute, Dato’ Dr Ooi Kee Beng said, “Even before Covid-19, the world was already living in a New Normal: New because of the amazing impact of social media and of the smart phone; and Normal because these changes are disruptive and transformative. What Covid-19 has done is force us all to admit that media and information literacy is a survival skill in the 21st century. Knowing what to believe is necessarily a measure of intelligence in the future.”

Ambassador McFeeters stated, “With the rapid spread of disinformation online, divisions can be created and amplified, electoral processes undermined, and trust in media and democratic institutions eroded. Through TechCamp, we hope journalists can be inspired and challenged to pursue innovative solutions and produce quality content that will promote healthy democratic societies and strengthen trust in the media.”

Chief Minister YAB Chow Kon Yeow highlighted that a democracy where the people lack access to impartial, evidence-based, and accurate information is a democracy where the people are disempowered. “Therefore, understanding the mechanics of misinformation and disinformation, and its connections with public opinion formation is a vital challenge for democracy; and it is a challenge that all of us, the politicians, ordinary citizenry, and the media, should undertake together,” he said.

The US is committed to supporting healthy democratic institutions and a vibrant, free press. Through TechCamp and many other programs, the US is dedicated to promoting investigative journalism, media literacy and advancing a pluralistic and independent media capable of addressing threats from information manipulation.

About TechCamp
TechCamps are a public diplomacy program hosted in the Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs (ECA) at the U.S. Department of State. They are aimed at creating connections, sparking innovation, and empowering the civil society to solve the world’s most pressing challenges through technology. Held in various countries, TechCamp covers a wide range of topics such as countering disinformation, combating the climate crisis, and others.

About Penang Institute
PENANG INSTITUTE is one of Malaysia’s major think tanks. Funded by the Penang state government with the tagline “Making Ideas Work”, Penang Institute encourages bold and innovative thinking not only in academic disciplines but also through the support it gives to literature and culture.

Countering Disinformation for a Healthier Democracy