Malaysian History Syllabus: Delusion, Amnesia, Inertia and Arrogance

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

A few days ago, two senior academics involved in the writing of history textbooks emerged from the shadows with the public allegation that the history textbooks in the country are biased and littered with errors. According to Dr. Ranjit Singh Malhi, one of the two authors, “secondary text books have been used to promote political interests”. Ng How Kuen, the other concerned author, expressed his fear that making history a compulsory pass subject would mean that students would have to subscribe to the official version of events or risk failing the entire examination.

It is said that history is written by the victors but it is also true that we get the history we deserve. The disclosure that the teaching of history in schools has been skewed and has a political agenda – besides suffering from distortions and errors – is not the first time this issue has been brought to the public’s attention.

Earlier attempts to highlight the issue of what constitutes the true history of Malaysia and what is passed off as officially sanctioned history in the schooling and larger public system such as the BTN courses may have begun with a bang but they have all ended with a whimper.

If we go by previous experience we can expect the following response:

• Bureaucratic foot-dragging and feigned ignorance on the issue
• Justification and cover up of the existing history text books and syllabus system and attempts to prevent any public discussion and reform
• Use of the mask of impartiality and superior knowledge to deflect criticism
• Attacks on the credibility of whistle blowers
• Deafening silence from key stakeholders, including the academic community, political parties and professional organizations.

Why is the great majority of our Malaysian public not concerned about the version of history that is being propagated in the schools? Why do they close their eyes and their minds to the distorted history that is being taught to their children and grandchildren? Do they not realize the consequences of the victory of a history that is radically different from the history that they themselves learnt when they were in school not so long ago? Is the history that they studied so wrong that it needs to be substantially changed in emphasis, content and scope? What is their stand on the development of a propagandistic and truncated history which is increasingly infiltrated by the forces of Islamization and crass nationalism, and where the four major diseases that afflict Barisan Nasional – delusion, amnesia, inertia and arrogance – are prominently evident and force fed into young minds?

The answers are complex but they essentially boil down to the apathy and lack of concern, especially amongst the educated and elite groups of our society on these important issues that are crucial to our survival as a rational and thinking society. Underscoring this ‘tidak apa’ attitude is the dominant factor of self-interest and self-preservation. Those involved with writing history text books and are in the know about the deplorable and compromised standards of their peer group want to protect their lucrative side-employment. Others such as academics or teachers of the subject in the schools do not dare to speak out for fear of being labeled as ‘anti-national’ or as in the case of those in the public universities, for fear of running foul on the Universities and Universities Colleges Act which will be selectively enforced on them should they write or speak publicly on issues where they are out of line with the official position.

It is no coincidence that the great majority of academicians and opinion writers that are regularly trotted out in the mainstream media are those that seek to justify or reinforce the current status quo. These sycophants have not only academic or intellectual immunity but they also enjoy perks akin to those enjoyed by business cronies of the Barisan Nasional. If there is any reaction from the academic community to the two whistle blowers, we can expect their comments to come from those who will toe and reinforce the official position and circumvent from the main issue of the Islamization and politicization of the Malaysian history school syllabus. Dissenters, on the other hand, have to face the possibility of lost or delayed promotions and other forms of punishment not easily discernible to the public eye.

“Shut up, mind your own business” and ‘cari makan’ (even though it may be through rent-seeking, queue-jumping, plagiarism and other unethical practices) have been the credo of the great majority of the professional elite in Malaysia. It is a culture that has served them well personally but at what cost to the nation?

Malaysian history must be based on facts and the scrupulous depiction of historical reality. The writing of text books should not be left to those that regard it as a business or their political agenda and are prepared to bend the truth so that it meets with the vision of an Islamic and UMNO dominant Malaysia. Unless we are prepared to fight for a scholarly, honest, reliable and representative history, we will end up with a future – as well as a past – that reflects the dominant ethnic and religious culture and community, and marginalizes or erases the contributions of other cultures and communities.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Saturday, 18 December 2010 - 10:52 am

    Making history a compulsory pass subject would mean mandatory indoctrination of BN ideologies into young minds.

  2. #2 by monsterball on Saturday, 18 December 2010 - 11:11 am

    Vast majority educate parents are working hard to support a family and I guess they are focus to see their children finish school and go out and earn a living.
    Presuming most parents know history books are distorted….what can they do?
    Do not forget…decades of advertising and mind control methods used by UMNO B…cannot be wipe out overnight.. by one 12th GE.
    Americans and especially the Jews are experts in advertising and minds control methods.
    The12th GE result have shown hundreds of thousands know and dare to vote UMNO B Govt. out. That’s a good start.
    The present political situation in Malaysia will see to that a change of Govt…is necessary… and when that is realized…let the good doctor..Lim Teck Ghee be the first to lead school books be amended and be totally truthful …with a team of experts history scholars advising him.
    Failing to do that…..I am sorry for the new Govt.
    It will be voted out by 14th voters are fed up with talks and no actions too.
    So first thing..we will vote UMNO B out……and see what happen.

  3. #3 by k1980 on Saturday, 18 December 2010 - 11:40 am

    Moo gets his motivation from the whitewashing of Nipponese war crimes in their school history textbooks

  4. #4 by cemerlang on Saturday, 18 December 2010 - 11:46 am

    Can books be trusted ? 100 % trusted ? 90 % trusted ? 50 % trusted ? If human minds can twist and turn, so too is the way one gorengkan the way one writes. If they write to the tune everyone loves, then everyone loves what they have written. How much can we remember the subject history in school ? A little bit, many would say. Why you take history ? Because you have to pass your exams. After you pass your exams, who cares what others think ? Your certificate shows you pass and that is all to it. You ask youths of today. Youths who love heavy metal rock music, youths who love Eastern anime, youths who love jeans and t shirts what do they think of communists ? They will tell you they are bad, bad people and should be jailed. They forget another part. Many communist countries are strong financially and militarily and many communist countries do trading with democratic countries. If they are bad, bad people, why should you make business with them ? The moral of the story is think, think and think but do not overthink least one ends up having to seek professional treatment. What ? When ? Why ? Which ? Where ? How ? Others ?

  5. #5 by tak tahan on Saturday, 18 December 2010 - 11:54 am

    Start with the facebook with ‘no’ to distorted history.Organise peace demo in protest against the biased history.History shouldn’t be amended as one pleases but must be uphold and respect unequivocally by all citizens.Otherwise malaysia history will end up in vague or non-existence other than series of comic.Katak politician,Kangaroo court,comical history..what else lah bolehland will come up with?Sakit kepala gua.Beh tahan

  6. #6 by Peter on Saturday, 18 December 2010 - 12:00 pm

    I have never ever trust those racialistic and religious zealots from UMNO running the Education port folio. Just look and read at some decision making personnel decisions and opinions in the media will tell you what quality your school going children will get in the end. These guys will do all they can to brainwash and distort the facts of Malysian history, subtly, to school children esp the non muslims to further their hidden agenda. If we esp East Malaysians dont wake up, god help us.

  7. #7 by DAP man on Saturday, 18 December 2010 - 12:24 pm

    My question is, how could be this allowed to take place when MCA, the so-called defenders of Chinese rights, are in the government. It’s even shameful that one MCA bloke is the Deputy Education Minister.
    Now why are the Chinese still supporting MCA and Gerakan what have sold out the Chinse race for material perks. Why blame UMNO?
    Come what may the entire Chinese community MUST reject this Chinese traitors in MCA and Gerakan in the next General Elections.
    That’s the Hobson’s Choice for us or we perish or migrate.

  8. #8 by DAP man on Saturday, 18 December 2010 - 12:27 pm

    MCA leaders send their children to international schools and then pack them off the Singapore or Autralia or UK.
    When they retire from politics they emigrate.
    Watch it, Ng Yen Yen is all set for the next flight to Australia…… yes, for good.

    So do they care for their community.

  9. #9 by k1980 on Saturday, 18 December 2010 - 1:53 pm

    #7 by DAP man
    //The entire Chinese community MUST reject this Chinese traitors in MCA and Gerakan in the next General Elections.//

    Joe, the Chinese in Penang did just that in 2008. Rare to see a single MCA, MIC or Gerakan rat to be seen in Penang nowadays. Soon they will join the extinct species such as the dinos and the dodo

  10. #10 by k1980 on Saturday, 18 December 2010 - 2:00 pm

    Sample SPM History question (Revised Syllabus)–

    Who is the greatest PM in Malaysian history? Explain why he is also known as The Botoxified Mongol Slayer. In not less than 500 words, list out all the great achievements this great man has done, such as getting rid of the opposition in the country and sending the great space-tourist to space.

  11. #11 by jus legitimum on Saturday, 18 December 2010 - 3:04 pm

    MCA and Gerakan or MIC are just suckers,opportunists and hypocrites.When the country collapses,not only Ng YY will pack and flee others like Chua pornstar,KTK,Semi Value and tons of the same breed will cabut to their selected destinations overseas.Currently these bums stick to BN for personal interest and wealth.Do they ever care and bother our children and our future generations?

  12. #12 by waterfrontcoolie on Saturday, 18 December 2010 - 8:28 pm

    We shouldn’t be surprised at these blokes grabbing on anything they thought they could justify their sloganeering. They fotgot that this is the 21st century, soon schools will be history like the way they want it. maybe parents should l;ike for better options in educating their children. As it is, what is the chances of your cildren being employed by the Gomen and even if they do, what is the prospect? Paying big tuition fees should be used for instead to pay for full-time private classes. we have slef proclaimed egg-heads who talk like chickens who have just lost their heads, in spite of the grandeur titles with their names! I think we should not be bothered with this and to all parents when you are forced to find an alternative means, it could be a blessing in disguise!!

  13. #13 by lee wee tak_ on Saturday, 18 December 2010 - 8:34 pm

    malaysian history 101: interesting topics

    1) had Cheng Ho and China not told Siam to piss off, the whole Peninsular would be under Siam and probably part of Thailand now

    2) economic boom in Malaya/Malaysia really kicked off after various races came here – Caucasians, Chinese, Indians, Arabs etc

    3) during the Japanese occupation – many people died defending the country, amng them Dr Karthigesu and her husband as well as Lim Boo Seng, who according to Spencer Chapman, died with his lips sealed. God did he suffered in the hands of kempeitai

    4) Onn Jaafar, founder of UMNO, realised back in the 1950’s that the way forward for Malaya is for all races to be united under one political party as communal politics is a recipe for diversion

  14. #14 by cemerlang on Saturday, 18 December 2010 - 11:24 pm

    If you do not want them to edit your history books, what will you give them in return ? What you give them in return is so important that they will not edit your history; at least not for the time being. So you must always have an original copy kept away in some unknown places where only Indiana Jones can find. The real world is when terms and conditions apply. You do not just fight without giving up something.

  15. #15 by Cinapek on Sunday, 19 December 2010 - 12:45 am

    And we have the stupid DG of the MOE trying to justify the syllabus and textbook changes as highlighting events rather than personalities in history. EVENTS IN HISTORY ARE CREATED BY PEOPLE !! You need to study and understand the profile of these personalities and the circumstances dictating their actions that created the defining moments of history. Moments in history seldom happened by chance. E.g. we must understand the person that is Pak Lah to understand why he survived only one term. We also must understand the person that is Mahathir to understand why he ruled for 22 years.

    So stop denying people like Yap Ah Loy their place and contributions in Malaysian history. They are our HISTORY.

  16. #16 by tak tahan on Sunday, 19 December 2010 - 10:07 am

    At least we must brief our children:how we achieved merdeka;how the father racist in the span of 22 years stripped naked bolehland so shamelessly;the sleepy pak lah overslept most of the time in no lest than 1 term his rein was forsaken;mongolian babe was flirted and c4ed;certain headmistress,guru,perkasa were given standing ovation for stoking racial issues;bolehland was bestowed kangaroo court;katak-katak were hopping here and there for goodies.The rest of the revised history just gooble up and pass thru the ass like the recycle bin in computer.

  17. #17 by cemerlang on Sunday, 19 December 2010 - 10:27 am

  18. #18 by BoycottLocalPapers on Sunday, 19 December 2010 - 11:32 am

    I don’t care much what UMNO wanted their children to believe about history but I am against what our Non-Muslim children are being taught in school during history lesson.

    In school, non-Muslim children are being forced to believe in the superiority of the Arab race, Arab religion, and Arab civilization and cultures.

    What is so great about the Arab culture if compared with Indian, European, Chinese, Japanese, Thais, Korean, African cultures that we have to study it so thoroughly and disregard other superior cultures?

    There is nothing special about the Arab culture or Arab civilization if compared with other cultures and civilizations. In fact, the American culture (which is only about 300 years old) is much better than the Arab’s. There is nothing special about the Arab today that we or our children can emulate.

    Arab history is full of betrayal, wars, murders, conquests, corruption, and slavery of the blacks where Arab leaders killed non-Muslims and killed each other for political power. Proof? You have the Internet and you can check it out for yourselves. You don’t need those fake history textbooks printed by UMNO that is trying to sugar coated Arab religion to make it edible for our non-Muslim children.

    What happens to Kota Gelanggi which is an archaeological site reported in 2005 as potentially the first capital of the ancient Malay Empire of Srivijaya ca. 650-900?

    In order to glorify Arab’s culture and civilization, UMNO is trying hard to cover up the discovery of non-Muslim civilizations such as Langkasuka and Srivijaya, that flourished long before the Arabs invaded this region.

    In order to glorify the Ketuanan Arab, UMNO is willing to censor the Internet and block Malaysians from accessing to websites that are critical to Arab’s religion and fake history propagated by UMNO.

  19. #19 by Malaysian Voter on Sunday, 19 December 2010 - 2:59 pm

    Shouldn’t Kuala Lumpur be renamed Bandaraya Yap Ah Loy?

  20. #20 by cemerlang on Sunday, 19 December 2010 - 5:00 pm

    Because Arabs have black gold. Oil. Money. MONEY. What else if it is not money ? Therefore for now, everyone will follow Arabs. Not because of Islam. But because of money. Between money and religion, money comes first. It is not Islam. It is Arab. It is not Arab. It is money.

  21. #21 by cemerlang on Sunday, 19 December 2010 - 5:02 pm

    Bandaraya Yap Ah Loy ? Sound like so old fashioned. Even Kuala Lumpur sound so no standard. Kuala means mouth of river. Lumpur means mud. What is so great about that ?

  22. #22 by aiD_kamikuP on Sunday, 19 December 2010 - 11:18 pm

    Compare what was written in issues of ‘Malaysia in History’ – Journal of the Malaysian Historical Society up to the mid/late-1980s and contents of history books currrently used by students. Any neutral reader would be aghast by the stark contrast in the recognition of contributions made by the various races.

    With that much politically motivated distortion and ridiculous spin having made their way into current history books, students in Malaysia would have learnt about as much history of Malaysia by discarding their history books and read Kama Sutra instead.

  23. #23 by undertaker888 on Monday, 20 December 2010 - 8:54 am

    let’s make umno and its bn cohorts a history come GE13. this will be the greatest history of the country ever since it was formed.

    this will be the most patriotic thing any citizen can do for this country.

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