WITH a veteran historian coming forward to criticise the “dilution” of Malaysian history, another expert claimed that the move was on-going gradually to undermine the minority’s contribution to nation building.
“I can’t really say if it’s done deliberately but it definitely looks like it. It’s actually done gradually, over the years.
“The idea is basically to promote Malaysia’s history as a Malay-Muslim based, watering down the contributions made by the minority groups.
“That is why we have youngsters these days oblivious of fact-based history and question the contribution of other races,” Kumpulan Sasterawan Kavyan founder Uthaya Sankar SB told FocusM.
Yesterday, Free Malaysia Today reported a well-known historian Ranjit Singh Malhi criticising the latest edition of secondary school history textbooks for being biased and inaccurate, and called on the Education Ministry to take action.
Ranjit said the textbooks, for use in Form 1 to Form 5, were Malay and Islam-centric and had omitted key facts relevant to nation-building while including factual distortions and exaggerations.
Pointing out that most of the textbooks’ writers were Malay, he said this meant that students were learning world and Malaysian history from the perspective of one particular ethnic group.
“The glaring defects in the current history textbooks only confirm the bias of the writers. They do not provide an adequate, balanced and fair account of the emergence and growth of Malaysia’s plural society,” he was reported saying.
Touching on the matter, Uthaya said that if one reads the history textbooks of the day, youngsters would come to a conclusion that the Chinese and Indians were brought in by the British as labourers in the past.
“But this is not true. The Chinese and Indians have been in the Malay Archipelago centuries before the Western imperialists came,” he added.
Counter distortions with facts, not emotion
Citing an example, Uthaya said that at the height of the Malaccan empire, one must be fluent in the Tamil language before climbing up the social ladder to become an aristocrat.
“At the time, in this region, knowledge of Tamil was equivalent of English mastery now. How many of our youngsters know that Tun Perak, the famous Malaccan Bendahara, was an Indian-Muslim?
“During my time, history books would mention Munshi Abdullah, who is known as the Father of Malay Literature. These days, history books rarely mention him. He was also an Indian-Muslim.
“If you look at the Malaccan empire, the entire narrative of its founding is now based on the Islamic agenda, which is not the case.
“In fact, Malacca’s administration then very much follows the traditional structure of Indian kingdoms, despite being governed by Muslims,” he opined.
On pre-Merdeka history, Uthaya said that the contribution of left-leaning politicians to the Independence struggle is rarely mentioned, with many of the patriots branded as “communists”.
“But if you talk to their descendants, they will dismiss the ‘communist’ label and stress that their forefathers fought against the Japanese and British,” he noted.
On what can be done to counter the “dilution”, Uthaya urged the people to come forward and debunk false narratives using facts, instead of succumbing to emotion.
“And it has to be a collective effort, not rely on one person to do the job. Plus, it doesn’t need to come from an expert alone.
“If you have something like a letter from your great grandfather which can dispute certain ‘official facts’, bring it over and submit them to the relevant authority instead of just posting it on Facebook,” he said.
Citing the Interlok controversy years back, Uthaya said the mass movement was good in getting the Government to withdraw the fiction-ridden literature away from schools.
“But while others focused on the derogatory words used against the minorities, Kavyan also pressed the Government to correct factual errors in the book, despite just being a work of fiction,” he remarked. – April 13, 2021.