UMNO-nised History

By Khoo Kay Peng

Historical records had been manipulated by many great empires, dynasties and ruling regimes to depict only their greatness, legacy and contributions. History will continue to be manipulated by victors and autocratic governments to glorify their rule, fake their ‘achievements’ and hide their weaknesses and faults.

In a report front-paged in theSun (picked up by Malaysian Insider), textbook authors Dr Ranjit Singh Malhi and Ng How Kuen alleged that school history textbooks were littered with factual errors and distortions, adding that these failed to give fair recognition to the country’s non-Malay nationalists.

Dr Ranjit, who is currently an advisor to the ministry on history textbooks, also
claimed that secondary school history textbooks have been used to promote
political interests.

He further claimed that when he once pointed out the errors and distortions, a ministry official had labelled him as “anti-national”.

“Secondary school history textbooks have been used to promote political interests. It should be a scholarly pursuit and not politically-motivated.

“Five out of 10 chapters of the Form Four history textbook deal with Islamic history as compared to only one chapter in the earlier textbook. The intention of the earlier syllabus was to expose our students to World History,” he was quoted as saying.

Dr Ranjit added that historical personalities like Yap Ah Loy (third Kapitan Cina of Kuala Lumpur), Gurchan Singh (the “Lion of Malaya”) and Sybil Karthigesu were not given sufficient recognition in the local textbooks.

Ng added that in the stories on the country’s fight for independence, the contributions of the communists had been left out.

This is an old story. Current MCA leadership should be rapped on the knuckles for failing to push for a thorough review of the textbooks when the distortions and ill intention to manipulate history by some overzealous writers were detected during Ong Ka Ting’s tenure as president.

I remember that Insap, the MCA think tank, and a few academicians were involved in the initial review. I had an opportunity to look at the F4 and F5 textbooks. To my horror, almost 5 out of 10 chapters of the World History textbooks were dedicated to Islamic history.

A friend of mine who is a partner of an established consulting firm here took a hard decision to send his child overseas after he found out about the history textbooks. His son was only 14 years old. He did not want his son to be part of a corrupted, politicized and distorted local education system.

Alas, MCA and Gerakan leaderships have remained staunch cheerleaders of UMNO. Both parties are still more interested to be part of UMNO’s gravy train than doing something real and meaningful to ensure that Malaysia remains a healthy and progressive multiracial nation.

Both parties have recently complained about the big brother-small brother relationship in Barisan Nasional. Nothing much is going to change until both parties stand up and speak out against ongoing tyranny against multiracialism and the true spirit of nation building.

These history textbooks are tools for UMNO to propagate its Malay supremacy agenda which is totally misguided and dangerous.