‘Rectify distortions in history first’

By Joseph Tawie, Free Malaysia Today

KUCHING: Sarawak opposition wants the Education Ministry to defer making history as a compulsory examination subject for SPM until the “factual errors, distortions and omissions” are rectified.

PKR adviser Dominique Ng said the current history books were littered with inaccuracies and have “omitted” Sabah and Sarawak’s history.

“History must not be distorted and must be inclusive of international, local as well as the history of Sabah and Sarawak.

“Without duly setting down the history of the two states as partners of the federation, national history would not only be incomplete but be wholly misrepresented.

“Only history as inclusive and as accurately set forth is worthy of being taught to Malaysian students,” he said.

Ng said it was the government’s “scared task to appoint competent writers” who would present an accurate picture of history to the young.

“If history is misrepresented, the direction of the nation would be confused in the times ahead.

“It is thus a sacred task to appoint competent writers of history texts who will present history more accurately by consciously resisting personal, ethnic, religious or regional bias.

“These writers must also resist partisan politics or executive pressures or threats, ” he added.

Ng, who is also Padungan assemblyman, said students should be given the opportunity to broaden their “global outlook” by studying the major civilisations, civilisational cross encounters, renaissance, industrial age and social political philosophies.

“Students must also be exposed to democratic evolutions and revolutions, wars, anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist struggles and especially the history of Asean countries. They can and must broaden their global outlook,” he said.

Empires and heroes

Citing Sarawak’s over 100-year old rich history, he said students must be told of the prehistoric age, the Srivijaya and Majapahit empires, the Brunei Sultanate and the Malaysia Agreement.

“We must expose students to the artefacts such as the Stone Age relics dating 40,000 years at the Niah Caves, the Chinese Tang period stoneware and porcelain in the Santubong area, the Srivijaya influences and the 1293-1500 Majapahit empire influences.

“They should also be told about the Brunei Sultanate’s control of the area from 1403-1841, the Brooke rule from 1841-1941, the Japanese occupation, the British arrival and the formation of Malaysia 1963.

“We must also not discount the sacrifices of Sarawak nationalist heroes of the last two centuries. They too must find their place in Malaysian history texts and be recognised as national heroes,” he said.

He named heroes such as Datu Patinggi Ali, Sherip Masahor, Rentap Liew Shan Ban and Rosli Dhoby as people that Malaysian students must read about.