Institute director David Yepsen has completed a two week lecture tour of Malaysia at the invitation of the U.S. State Department.
Yepsen made 20 lectures and public appearances in the country where he discussed the 2012 presidential election and reviewed the way U.S. journalists cover presidential campaigns with Malaysian media people.
“This was a real honor to be invited to do this,” Yepsen said. “There’s a lot of interest in U.S. politics around the world and audiences were eager to understand what was happening in the campaign and the factors that will go into the outcome. Yepsen said he rated the 2012 U.S. presidential race as “too close to call.”
The performance of the U.S. economy, unforeseen events or disasters, the votes of women and of under 30 voters will be factors that determine the final outcome, he said.
The government in Malaysia is expected to call elections at any time and Yepsen said journalists were eager to hear how American reporters covered the U.S. presidential elections. “Malaysia elections are parliamentary elections and they are held quickly after the government calls elections,” Yepsen said. “That’s a lot different than our system where election dates are known and campaigns are never ending.”
Malaysia is a impressive country that is pumping a lot of its oil wealth into improving education and building infrastructure,” Yepsen said. “On the other hand, the government in Malaysia imposts strict control on what journalists do and that’s not so impressive.”
This is the second lecture tour Yepsen has done for the State Department. In 2010, he spoke in Uganda and Zambia. “These are countries that are friendly to the U.S. and they are developing their own democratic institutions and traditions. It’s in the U.S. interest to help these countries foster those institutions and traditions. After doing these trips, I always come home with a greater appreciation for the freedoms we take for granted here.”
In addition to directing the Institute, Yepsen has been teaching a political reporting class each semester at SIU. In the fall, he will teach a “politics and media” course.
To see more photos of Yepsen in Malaysia, check out the Institute's Facebook Page.