The right to know one’s history

By Mrs Sheela | CPIASIA

The teaching of History at the secondary school level is shrouded in controversy due to the apparent inaccuracies, biased representations and distortion of facts.

At the primary school level, Malaysian history which is examined in the subject ‘Kajian Tempatan’ (local studies) fares no better.

Consider the subject matter and emphasis taught at the Year 5 level. A government approved textbook comprising 98 pages focuses on two main segments or themes i.e. ‘Tema mengenal negara kita’ (to know our country) and ‘Tema sejarah negara kita’ (the history of our nation). In the first segment, seven pages are devoted to Malaysia’s geographical position, 11 pages to topography, 16 pages to climatic conditions and another 13 pages to wildlife, flora and fauna. Well and good.

However, in the next segment, the history of our nation begins with introduction of the Melaka sultanate in the 15th century. Some 25 pages are devoted to this subject matter, giving it a weightage of about 53% of this segment!

The history of Sarawak is discussed in a mere six pages whilst the history of Sabah is explored in seven pages. The glories and virtues of the Melaka sultanate are extolled at length, to the exclusion of other states. The histories of other states are not featured prominently but are mentioned in passing as a result of the expansion of the Melaka sultanate to those states.

No attempt has been made to discuss the early history of our nation. The influence of early Hindu-Buddhist empires such as Kedaram, Majapahit and Srivijaya dating from the 2nd to the 14th century which collectively have shaped the lineage, language and cultural norms of the nation have been omitted.

Subsequent chapters in this segment focus on the successive conquests of our nation by the Portugese, Dutch, British and the Japanese and the efforts of our national heroes to regain independence.

Of the six heroes mentioned, five belong to one ethnic group in West Malaysia and one from East Malaysia. The sacrifices of all other ethnic groups towards independence have been ignored altogether.

Omission of key historical events and personalities only serves to distort the past of our nation. Our children deserve unbiased accounts of their history. It is their right.

  1. #1 by boh-liao on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 - 1:42 pm

    What 2 do, 1 grp of ppl here do not hv much history n culture except d Melaka 1
    So, excuse plz, must always harp on it lor, what 2 do, plz faham lah, sorry, sorry OK

  2. #2 by undertaker888 on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 - 2:01 pm

    If the lion killed and ate that murderer parameswara, the story would end right there. stupid lion.

  3. #3 by k1980 on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 - 2:21 pm

    Malaysian history starts from the year 1400. All that happened before 1400 is whitewashed over. This is to ensure that the mata sepets and kaki botois cannot claim that they arrive here earlier than the tuans.

  4. #4 by k1980 on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 - 2:26 pm

    2011-1400 = 611. This means that the tuans have been around for only about 600 years, i.e. more than 4,400 years after the Chinese, Sumerians, Egyptians and Indians. Such late developers! What had the tuans been doing all these 4,400 years? Guarding their rambutan trees like cintanegara?

  5. #5 by tak tahan on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 - 3:08 pm

    Ar ha,hallo several thousand years old cintanegara,What say you?You have been originally here as you claimed so why your name not mentioned ar?I think not fair to ommit you also.I will fight for you with your highly praised TDM.Ummp ummmp,beh tahan,kan ni ne

  6. #6 by dagen on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 - 3:31 pm

    The malacca sultanate. That must the hole out of which crawled – tadadaada – the “malays”. Wrong. Well more like dont know. Correct me if I am wrong. Going by today’s definition, that first malacca sultan is (without being disrespectful) a mamak – an indian muslim. This is undisputable, I believe. But what culture did he adopt or practise then? Anyone knows? Indian? Probably. Or more probably some form of indian culture. So going by the definition in our present day constitution he is not “malay”.

    Oh boy. This is so confusing. Maybe I am too stupid to understand all this profound bits of sejarah versi umno.

  7. #7 by tak tahan on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 - 4:11 pm

    Yo yo dagen,actually my great grandfather owns this land but it’s only on lease to umno until 2011 or maybe extend to 2013 the most.Enough is enough.I don’t want them to exploit my great grandfather’s soil anymore.

  8. #8 by monsterball on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 - 4:14 pm

    The moment history of Malaysia are told sincerely factually…truthfully…them Malays will know too much where they came from…and how about the ways they became Malays…and who are the real freedom fighters against invaders..UMNO B can close shop with their race and religion politics..and the art to poison minds to be racists..and ultras gone…useless…no more valid.
    You think UMNO B band of robbers and thieves leaders will allow it?
    As for Najib…he knows next to nothing what’s happening in Malaysia.
    He only know how to find ways and means to fool Malaysians..which seems to be his priority all the tine.since after 12th GE.
    What a jerk….he is.

  9. #9 by tak tahan on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 - 5:21 pm

    My learned history during those school years has also been skewed by our half past six education minister.We just gobbled up anything in the book to be able to pass national exam as A.I should have scored D if based on true history exam paper.But right now luckily i came to know the real picture of malaysian history in LKS’s article.This country is sick to the core by the misdeed done by our sickening ministers.

  10. #10 by slashed on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 - 9:54 pm

    On the history of Sarawak, it should be emphasized that Sarawak was independent until the Japanese arrived. The Brooke dynasty ruled as legitimate Rajahs supported by the natives within the realm of Sarawak. We should not forget that natives comprised the army of the Brookes when they fought Rentap. Rentap may be a hero to some, but I can not support a person endeavouring in terrorist activities whose sole purpose was to defend a way of life which included piracy and the butchering of other natives. But of course, the government can not promote this view.

    • #11 by cemerlang on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 - 11:13 pm

      If my school days memory serves me correctly, Sarawak is never truely independent. She was under Brunei. Today she is under Malaysia. Ever notice how respectful or fearful are our leaders in the presence of the Brunei Sultan ? Sabah is never truely independent as well. However, probably Kalimantan was until she comes under Indonesia. So in this Borneo island, only Brunei was and is never under anyone. Unless you want to push further back to the Majapahit empire and all the other empires before that.

      • #12 by slashed on Thursday, 27 January 2011 - 12:37 am

        She was under Brunei. Brunei made Brooke governor but Brooke quickly used cunning (or, more accurately – threat of force) to become Rajah (and hence independent ruler of Sarawak). Brunei then ceded bits of Sarawak to the Brookes over time; the Brookes probably had more influence over Sarawak than Brunei ever did – the Brookes could keep the peace and after all, Charles Brooke spent a few years living amongst the natives (and apparently was fond of native girls who were equally fond of him!) before he was even an heir to the throne(!) (it was supposed to be Brooke Brooke) and he could easily summon many warriors who were loyal to him.

        For 100 years, Sarawak was free – at the most, it had British protection – but it was never a colony before ww2.

        How do I know these? From books published externally. The Malaysian history school book was utterly useless. For years in school I could not understand how Rentap was a hero because for years I could not see a single paragraph in the book that could convincingly paint the Brooke rule as an exploitative rule which was true of the East India Company in the rest of West Malaysia and Sabah. On the other hand, Rentap was a pirate. Clear and simple. The need to give Sarawak a native hero transformed what we would deem today a terrorist into a hero. I would more easily call Chin Peng a hero (not that I consider him one). After all, at least he killed for his ideology and nothing less; Rentap just killed because it was what he was used to doing and his way of life.

  11. #13 by Taxidriver on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 - 10:28 pm

    Is Hang Tuah the legendary ‘Melayu’ hero mentioned in the history text book? Students got the right to know Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat, Hang Kasturi, Hang Lekir and Hang Lekiu were sworn-brothers from China, and very likely of Hainanese dialect. Hence, the name Hang Dua ( dua as in BOK DUA means eldest in Hainanese ), Hang Jee-Bat ( jee means second as in BOK JEE ) and so on. They fought with swords, not keris and were respected by even the sultan then for their fighting skill.

    Since it has been confirmed those 5 heroes were Chinese afterall, it is my hope that UMNOB government will not rename roads named after them.

  12. #14 by Taxidriver on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 - 10:49 pm

    dagen #6

    When I was in primary our history book said Parameswara was a Hindu prince who fled Palembang from his enemies. He arrived at a place with his followers happened to see a dog chasing a sang kancil ( mouse deer ) He was very much inspired what happened next was when the poor kancil was at a dead end, it turned around and ‘attacked’ the dog with ferocity and……lo! the dog ran away chased by the kancil.

    Parameswara then asked one of his men the name of the tree under which he was sitting. They told him ”pokok melaka” That was when Melaka was founded.

  13. #15 by malignant on Thursday, 27 January 2011 - 3:53 pm

    the history of paramesvaran can be true. the founder of melaka and so the prosperity boomed. but looked at the details in the book, the booming of this small place is because Cheng Ho came with all the ships then only business happened. otherwise this place is still selling belacan and cencarau for living. please dont take all the credit. this place became famous i because of everyone. not because some sang kancil got good strong hind legs! we should learn from history, make this country famous again not just because some small timer shouted slogan like malaysia boleh. we should delete the racists problem and work together to show the other people in this world! hey dudes, in this world ada lagi orang putih, French, italian, japanese……..not just hanya melayu or cina or india. let the world know, in this world ada MALAYSIANS also!

  14. #16 by good coolie on Saturday, 29 January 2011 - 4:00 pm

    My school history book (mee was then 10 cents a bowl), told me that the kancil fell to the ground on its back and flailed at the dogs with all four legs, hurting them. In Tamil, such a position (on one’s back) is called lying down ” malakka” (now Melaka). I suggest that an alternative history be written quickly. I am sure patriotic Malaysians will buy it.

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