DPM: Base history review on facts

(NST) PUTRAJAYA: Any review of school history books must be based on facts, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said yesterday.

"History is history. We can never re-write or re-invent history.

"What is past is recognised as history of this country and, hopefully, it is written in a correct and precise manner.

"I have not had the chance to read the history books but, obviously, there must be some basis why those books were written in that way.

"Of course, we can improve on it from time to time but you cannot re-invent history by adding something which is not there."

Muhyiddin, who is also the education minister, was commenting on a statement by his deputy Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong, who wanted the books reviewed to ensure the contents did not offend anyone or create misunderstanding.

Wee was quoted as saying that "all races played a role in bringing the country to where it is today, and this must be reflected in the textbooks".

He said historical figures such as Lim Bo Seng, Gurchan Singh and Sybil Karthigesu had vanished from the records.

All resisted the Japanese occupation of Malaya during World War 2 and paid the price for it. "Leftenan Adnan (Saidi) of the Malay Regiment, however, gets a mention and a photograph."

Wee, the MCA Youth chief and the party's education bureau head, said he would brief Muhyiddin "on the feelings of the stakeholders on this and urge for a review to be carried out as soon as possible".

To this, Muhyiddin said: "We have to see whether what Wee meant fits into real history."

He added that the government recognised the contributions of all races in developing the country, from the date of Independence and right after that.

"What is important in history is to recognise what the others have done, like Malays fighting for independence, followed by leaders of other races.

"That is part of history and we recognise their contribution to the country. What is important is giving a correct picture, not to add or delete things."

He, however, said he was open to ideas and suggestions. "We will have to see whether the propositions from (political) parties are reasonable."

As far as school history books are concerned, he said: "Whatever changes or reviews must be based on the principles of correctness and truth. You can't make things which are not there."