Historian: UPM must probe Malay junk paper, academics’ integrity at stake

UNIVERSITI Putra Malaysia (UPM) must launch an investigation into a paper on Malay maritime history written by two of its academics who have been accused of misrepresenting facts by a French historian.

This is after Museum Bahari in Jakarta said the model of a Malay junk used in Rozita Che Rodi and Hashim Musa’s research article, is not part of its catalogue.

According to historian Ranjit Singh Malhi, the academics’ integrity is at stake following the museum’s denial.

Furthermore, one of the researchers had also alleged that she had seen the model at the museum.

“Rozita, in a Facebook post, claims she had ‘visited the museum personally and saw the model exhibited’,” Ranjit was quoted as saying by Malaysiakini.

“On the contrary, Museum Bahari’s authorities have now confirmed that the junk in question is not part of its catalogue and that it resembles a Chinese junk.

“Hence, Rozita’s academic integrity, which is the soul of academia, has been seriously questioned.

“Accordingly, UPM authorities have no choice but to immediately launch an investigation to ascertain the truth which is most necessary to uphold its reputation,” he remarked.

Ranjit was referring to Rozita’s online comment on Jan 21, when she defended the photo of a vessel in a research paper she and Hashim wrote titled “The Jongs and The Galleys: Traditional Ships of The Past Malay Maritime Civilisation”.

The article was published in the “International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, Vol.13, Issue 11, 2023”.

“Jung on page 11 is the model found in Museum Bahari Sunda Kelapa Jakarta. The author visited the museum personally and saw the model exhibited. Maybe it is found also in other museums,” Rozita had posted in the comment section of French historian Serge Jardin’s Facebook post.

(Pic credit: Berita Harian)

Jardin had claimed that the photo published in the article was not a Malay jong but instead a Foochow pole junk.

UPM later issued a statement defending Rozita and Hashim, saying that the article published had been peer-reviewed.

Meanwhile, Ranjit also urged the Higher Education Ministry to identify and blacklist predatory journals, adding that many academics have been publishing their articles in predatory or fake journals.

“Sadly, a large number of Malaysian academics (particularly young and inexperienced scholars) are guilty of publishing their articles, which often lack depth and do not contribute to new knowledge, in predatory or fake journals,” he reportedly said.

“Perhaps, the Higher Education Ministry should take the initiative to identify and blacklist the predatory journals, and strictly prohibit local academics from publishing their works in such journals.”

Jardin, who had previously called out the two UPM academics on misrepresenting historical facts related to Malay jongs in a paper published in an academic journal, questioned how it was possible for an expert– if the paper went through a blind peer review as claimed by UPM– to not have spotted the difference between a Chinese junk and Malay Jong.

He calls their defence “a joke”.

“Their (UPM’s) answer is a joke. Are we speaking of a peer blind review or are the so-called experts blind? How is it possible for an expert not to see the difference between a Chinese Junk and a Malay Jong?

“Have you ever seen a Malay boat with a pair of eyes at the bow, which clearly belongs to Chinese culture?

“How can a maritime expert confirm the galley (ghali) was used in Melaka, in the Sultanate of Melaka fleet, before the arrival of the Portuguese and the Ottomans in Southeast Asia? There is no historical source to sustain that affirmation,” he told the New Straits Times. – Jan 30, 2024


Main pic credit: FMT

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