The Application of Psychological Operation (PSYOP): A Case Study on The Siege of Sauk

  • Aniq Luqman Shamsul Afkar Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts, UCSI University Kuala Lumpur (South Wing), Kuala Lumpur Campus, 1, Jalan Menara Gading 1, 56000, Kuala Lumpur, KL, Malaysia.
  • Zhooriyati Sehu Mohamad Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts, UCSI University Kuala Lumpur (South Wing), Kuala Lumpur Campus, 1, Jalan Menara Gading 1, 56000, Kuala Lumpur, KL, Malaysia.
Keywords: Al-Ma’unah, Psychological operation, Perang saraf, Persuasion, Hostage crisis


Psychological Operation (PSYOP) is a strategic effort aimed at persuading and manipulating attitudes and behaviours of a target audience. The nature of Psychological Operation inhibits scientific analyses of its capabilities and effectiveness, resulting in scepticism of PSYOPs ability to influence. The current study explores the development of persuasive arguments and effectiveness of security forces’ PSYOP engagement during the Al-Maunah hostage crisis in Sauk, Perak in the year 2000. Through an in-depth interview with a member of the operation, it was identified that security forces employed multiple influence tactics in order to persuade the enemy to surrender. This included exploiting the emotional impact of music, moral appeal through family pleas, and the manipulation of environmental conditions via harassing fire. The findings suggest that factors such as the identification and exploitation of the enemy’s vulnerabilities had contributed to a successful PSYOP. Though not without its flaws, the operation effectively destabilized the enemy and paved the way for a face-to-face negotiation, resulting in the enemy surrendering with minimal casualty. The research overall provides scientific evidence on the effectiveness of PSYOP when executed with sufficient psychological knowledge. The research has implications for understanding the mechanisms of a successful tactical Psychological Operation. This sets a precedent for security forces to evaluate past and future psychological engagements, allowing for a scientifically grounded assessment of Malaysia’s PSYOP capabilities. In general, the research has important implications for developing the general theory of persuasion and contributes to the overall hypothesis of PSYOP in its effectiveness of influencing a target audience.


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How to Cite
Shamsul Afkar, A. L. and Sehu Mohamad, Z. (2022) “The Application of Psychological Operation (PSYOP): A Case Study on The Siege of Sauk”, Malaysian Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities (MJSSH), 7(7), p. e001643. doi: 10.47405/mjssh.v7i7.1643.