Archive for category History

Media lynching and academic collaborators

By Dr Lim Teck Ghee

Every once in a while the government-controlled or government-associated media engages in a public lynching of individuals that dare to challenge the Umno-scripted truth about the political system, religion, the monarchy or just about any subject which may be seen as threatening to Umno’s political and ideological dominance.

The latest case involves Mohamad Sabu and the reason for his lynching relates to a speech he made in Tasek Gelugor on Aug 21 in which the PAS deputy president touched on the Bukit Kepong incident of Feb 23, 1950. 

In that incident, armed members of the Malayan Communist Party attacked and killed 25 police personnel and some of their family members. In his speech reported by Utusan Malaysia, Mat Sabu allegedly glorified the MCP by claiming that they were the real heroes for fighting against the British and for leading the country’s struggle for independence.
Read the rest of this entry »


History or Soviet-style propaganda? That is the question

by Andrew Aeria
The Malaysian Insider
Aug 15, 2011

AUG 15 — If anyone from the Ministry of Education held an honest, open and non-patronising discussion with our secondary schoolchildren on the subject of history as it is presently taught in school, they would discover that a huge majority of students view it as a painfully boring and utterly worthless subject.

They would also discover that students learn practically nothing from the subject. Instead, students only force themselves to memorise vacuous facts about people and events merely to pass their exams; an indoctrination exercise that defeats the whole purpose of why we educate our children in the first place.

I should know. I taught an introductory-level university course, “Malaysian Social History” to undergraduates for a few years. And to my astonishment, I discovered how intellectually and emotionally impoverished my undergraduates were about history. Not that they had not studied and even passed the subject with flying colours in their SPM/STPM exams, but because what they had previously memorised in school was simply not worth remembering! Stunned by their lack of interest in the subject, I examined the current school history syllabus and its teaching methods. I discovered to my horror and dismay that it is presently more predisposed to Soviet-style propaganda instead of being a subject that nurtures a passionate appreciation of our rich heritage and common humanity. Read the rest of this entry »


Hindraf lawsuit to correct historical and recent wrongs

by Dr Lim Teck Ghee

11 August 2011

A UK-based solicitor and lawyer – appointed by Hindraf Makkal Sakthi – is scheduled to meet with members of the Malaysian public this Sunday (Aug 14).

His fact-finding mission is to help him better understand the situation on the ground and interview those participating in the Hindraf class action suit. This lawsuit against the British government seeks to correct historical injustices inflicted on Indians who were brought to the peninsula by the white colonialists.

The Hindraf move is almost certain to court a fresh storm of controversy and criticism from Umno, the party that will be most embarrassed when full details of the Indian marginalization emerge. The extent to which the local Indian community, particularly Hindus of Tamil stock, is excluded from the nation’s progress and wellbeing can only reflect badly on the Malaysian government. Read the rest of this entry »


Kota, kedai and kopitiam

By Zubin Mohamad
June 26, 2011 | The Malaysian Insider

JUNE 26 — Over the years, I have been going back to Kelantan either to visit my parents and family or to do research on Kelantan performance. During one of the trips, I took a friend to visit some old cemeteries and traditional villages near Kota Baru. After the trip, she said, “Next we should visit the kota-kota in Kelantan.” Kota usually refers to fort, mostly referring to the old fort surrounding a palace or town like Kota Melaka, Kota Kuala Muda in Kedah or Kota Malawati in Kuala Selangor. Kota also refers to a city like Kota Kinabalu or Kota Baru. But perhaps both are related as the old palace or town is usually surrounded by a wall, ie. fully fortified.

In Kelantan, there are a few places with the word kota in front of it such as Kota Kubang Labu, Kota Jelasin, Kota Jembal, Kota Mahligai or Kota Salor, mostly related to the old royal palaces before the present royal administration. They could be related to one another but may have been at war with each other at some time or existed one after the other. Read the rest of this entry »


If history was written by Interlok author Abdullah Hussain

By Centre for Policy Initiatives
June 09, 2011 | The Malaysian Insider

JUNE 9 — The Malaysian Insider yesterday (June 8) carried the rather arresting headline “Use Interlok as model for history textbooks, says historian”. The article reported a suggestion by Prof Anthony Milner for “Interlok” to be used as a model for history textbooks. The reasons given are that the novel is “wonderfully inclusive” and “sympathetic” in its narrative and depiction of non-Malays.

Milner, who is with UKM’s International Studies department, categorises “Interlok” as being “a bit of a historical novel” that provides an insight into the lives of the Chinese and Indian communities and their relationship with the Malay community.

The Australian academic is likely unaware that his proposal is every bit as controversial as Abdullah Hussain’s contentious novel. “Interlok” elicited the firestorm it has precisely because its sympathy quotient is no more than if a third-rate author were to attempt to copy Alex Haley’s acclaimed “Roots” (about the origins of the African-Americans) but narrating from a white slave owner’s supremacist point of view. Read the rest of this entry »


Using history to make us intelligent, not stupid

By AB Sulaiman | May 30, 11

Some years ago, a concerned parent and friend drew my attention to the peculiar case of the current History textbooks for Forms 4 and 5 students. He hinted that apparently they were decked with omissions, errors, half-truths, an exaggerated role of the Malay ethnic group, and minimising or omitting altogether the considerable contribution of non-Malay individuals.

The texts furthermore exaggerated the role and influence of Islam toward the development of human civilisation and the country. His daughter had found the subject unbelievable, bordering on the ridiculous, and also very boring, but had studied on because she had to.
Read the rest of this entry »


Laporan kajian tentang penyimpangan dan kelemahan buku teks sejarah

CPIASIA | 27 May 2011

Urutan Power Point di bawah telah disediakan oleh Centre of Malaysian Chinese Studies (CMCS) dan Nanyang University Alumni Association of Malaya (NYUAA, Malaya) and dibentangkan kepada awam yang menghadiri upacara pelancaran kempen A Truly Malaysian History pada Mei 15 baru-baru ini.

Laporan CMCS dan NYUAA membuat ulasan bahawa skop sempit matapelajaran Sejarah tidak berupaya memupuk generasi muda yang “berpandangan global”.
Read the rest of this entry »


Major shortcomings in current History teaching

CPI Asia | 20 May 2011

Introduction by CPI

Under the Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Menengah (KBSM), the History textbooks used in secondary schools are written by the Education Ministry and published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.

The authors for the present KBSM History series are Ahmad Fawzi Mohd Hassan, Mohd Fo’ad Sakdan, Azami Man, Masariah Mispari, Johara Abdul Wahab, Ridzuan Hasan, Ramlah Adam, Abdul Hakim Samuri, Muslimin Fadzil, Nik Hassan Shuhaimi Nik Abdul Rahman, Mohd Yusof Ibrahim, Muhammad Bukhari Ahmad, Rosnanaini Sulaiman, Ramlah Adam, Shakila Parween Yacob, Abdul Hakim Samuri and Muslimin Fadzil.
Read the rest of this entry »


Reclaiming our truly Malaysian history

By Centre for Policy Initiatives

Introduction by CPI

Below is the first in the CPI series on ‘Reclaiming our truly Malaysian history’.

The post provides readers with information on the meeting held in Petaling Jaya on May 15 to launch the national campaign on reforming the history curriculum and textbooks.

During the next few weeks and months, CPI will feature analysis and contributions from scholars and educators on the history reform issue so that the public and government are made aware of and fully understand the ramifications of education – in this case, the history curriculum and textbooks – being used as a political football by the powers that be.
Read the rest of this entry »


Surely not another 50 years of Islamisation?

by Yin Ee Kiong | CPIAsia

Until now one can arguably say that the non-Muslims have not made a stand against the erosion of their constitutional right regarding freedom of worship. Neither have they done anything to protect the status of their religion.

The church has stood by while symbols of their religion were dismantled from mission schools. The church leaders were weak and complaint, and for being a ‘good boy’ many were made Datuks. The same can be said of the leaders of the other religions.

If ever they thought that ‘turning the other cheek’ would appease the Islamist fundamentalists then they were wrong. Appeasement only emboldened the religious ultras among the Muslims.

Now we’ve had churches being torched and corpses snatched, temples demolished and cow heads paraded to insult the religions of the infidels.
Read the rest of this entry »


An Open Letter to Our Education Minister

The recent focus given to history as a compulsory subject in the Malaysian school curriculum has driven me as a parent of school going children to gain an insight of what my children are learning in history as a subject in school. Before I summarise my findings (via reading my children’s history text books from Form 1 – 5), allow me to briefly take you through what is being taught as history in our government school:

Form 1 students are taught predominantly about the Malacca Sultanate with sporadic anecdotes of the other states. Penang is not mentioned at all and if I’m a student studying in Penang, I will seriously be wondering why. That is until I go to Form 2 whereby I will learn about the Straits Settlement, Tin Mining, Rubber Plantation and Exploitation by the British. Form 3 students learn about the Japanese Occupation, the Communist Party of Malaya, leading to Malaysia’s independence in 1957. A very detailed account of all the political parties in Malaysia is also elaborated. The 1955 Election Results seemed to be an important account in history as it is mentioned twice, in Form 3 and again in Form 5.

In Form 4, other than the first two chapters where one learns about the early civilization and the emergence of various religions, the rest of the year you will be doing an in-depth study of Islam – Islam Civilisation, Islamic Government in Medina, Formation of Islamic Government & Its Contribution, Islam in South East Asia, and Islam Influence in Malaysia. One could not be faulted to ask the question if one is learning history or religious study. I believe Azmi Sharom has expounded succinctly and rather ingeniously on this issue in his article in The Star on 30 Dec 2010. Read the rest of this entry »


Petition to reform history education: act now


We urge CPI readers and others to sign this important petition by a courageous parent. The petition calls on the authorities to act immediately to address the bias and shortcomings plaguing the Malaysian history syllabus and textbooks.

Our younger generation deserve a broad, impartial and fair history in their education. They do not deserve narrowly blinkered history textbooks and a syllabus that are bent on propagandizing parochial ethno-nationalist and religiously biased perspectives and knowledge.

All parents and taxpayers in the country should be concerned with the current situation of history education which is providing our children with selective and biased views and knowledge that can only further polarize and divide the communities and nation rather than serve to unify us on the basis of a fair and accurate representation of our past and that of all civilizations.


THE PETITION Read the rest of this entry »


Imperative that the public lock horns over ‘Interlok’

By K Pragalath
Introduction by CPI
28 January 2011

The Star today frontpaged ‘Interlok stays’ as its main story and reporting Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin as saying the contentious novel is to remain a Form 5 exam text but with amendments to several aspects “deemed sensitive by the Indian community???.

A section of the Indian community suspects that the selection of this more than 40-year-old book – only reprinted as recently as last year – was impelled by an ulterior motive. The novel Interlok not only portrays the Indian community as the ‘pariah’ class that emigrated to the peninsula but has as its running theme a recurrent allusion to the Indian and Chinese races as ‘pendatang’ as well as many negative, racial stereotypes.

Muhyiddin was quoted by The Star (source: Bernama) as saying that his ministry’s decision to retain ‘Interlok’ was made “after taking into consideration the views of all parties, which acknowledged that the book was good in nurturing and strengthening unity among the multi-racial and multi-religious society in Malaysia???.

The Minister’s rationale and claim of “nurturing unity??? fail to withstand scrutiny when there have been nationwide protests against the book, countless police reports as well as threats of civil suits. These very acts in themselves are already indicative of the deep cleavages and ill-will that the book has engendered.

Are we to trust Malay Literature teachers, predominantly belonging to one race, to exercise an adequate wisdom and tact over such an emotion-rousing novel when the racist utterances of the Bukit Selambau (Kedah) and Kulaijaya (Johor) school principals still leave a sour taste in the mouth? Read the rest of this entry »


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.
Read the rest of this entry »


Malay history: What’s missing from the textbooks (2)

by John Doe | CPIASIA

Also interesting to note is the following:

In Late Yuan Dynasty, China became chaotic, people who lived along the coastal area of Fujian, under the leadership of Ong Sum Ping’s siblings, escaped to eastern Kalimantan — they landed at the river mouth. When they were exhausted, facing a shipping crisis, someone lost their arms. After that, the Kadazans named it as Sungai Kinabatangan — the place where the Chinese lost their arms.

Ong Sum Ping and his sister, and the Chinese people developed the area of Sungai Kinabatangan, and they increased their influence there. With the increase of his prosperity, the natives named him Raja, or King. The Chinese named him as ‘Chung Ping’ — meaning the General. We can clearly see that Ong Sum Ping controlled Eastern Kalimantan.

This is Ong Sum Ping Road in Brunei.
Read the rest of this entry »


Malay history: What’s missing from the textbooks

by John Doe | CPIASIA

Brunei has always been known to be one of the earliest Muslim Kingdoms in Southeast Asia. They pride themselves in this fact. All their neighbors pride themselves in this too, and of course, since it is fact, it is irrefutable. Right?

Good. Let’s quickly look at some FACTS then:

It is taught in school textbooks that Pateh Berbai, the brother of Awang Semaun and Awang Alak Betatar, discovered Brunei. Awang Alak Betatar subsequently became Brunei’s first Sultan and was known as Sultan Muhammad Shah. Awang Semaun and Awang Alak Betatar were the famous heroes in Brunei during that time.

Sultan Muhammad Shah was the first Sultan of Brunei. He ruled Brunei from 1363 to 1402. He was the first Muslim ruler of Brunei as a result of his conversion to Islam in 1363 for his marriage to a Johorean-Temasik princess. Prior to conversion to Islam, he was known as Awang Alak Betatar.
Read the rest of this entry »


Half the country disappears in M’sian history syllabus

by Dr Geoff Wade

CPI Introduction

In view of the controversy swirling around the content of the History textbooks used in schools, we thought Dr Geoff Wade’s ‘The Origins and Evolution of Ethnocracy in Malaysia’ on the measures used to maintain Malay hegemony merit revisiting.

“It is very strange today that in the diverse, multi-ethnic polity of Malaysia, a single ethnic group completely controls and occupies virtually all positions in the judiciary, public administrative organs, the police, the armed forces as well as universities.

“While Malays constitute a majority of the population of this nation, their presence in all these spheres of power far exceeds their ratio within the general population.”

CPI first carried Dr Wade’s ARI Working Paper No.111 in our website on Sept 9, 2009. Dr Wade is an historian who researches various aspects of Sino-Southeast Asian historical interactions over the last 1,000 years and has recently been concentrating on 20th-century interactions between Southeast Asia and China. He previously studied and worked in Australia, Malaysia, China and Hong Kong.
Read the rest of this entry »


History syllabus and textbooks: The non-Malay fig leaf and more serious matters

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee
Centre for Policy Initiatives
Sunday, 02 January 2011

The Ministry of Education has finally replied to concerns raised by many Malaysians that the teaching of Malaysian history has been debased through changes in the syllabus and textbooks. However the letter by the Corporate Communications Unit of the Ministry totally ignores the allegations and makes no attempt to address the specific and general concerns articulated in the media and the internet.

Instead, the reply is a public relations job detailing non-Malay participation in the writing of text books and referrals made in recommending text book writers. This is insufficient to allay concerns or refute the allegations made of the political bias, crass nationalism and blatant Islamization that have come to dominate the history syllabus and textbooks.
Read the rest of this entry »


Softening up students to Islam with History syllabus

Written by Centre for Policy Initiatives
Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Whose history is the government pushing on our students and to what effect?

On Oct 23, Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that History will be made a must-pass subject for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia beginning 2013. This puts the subject on par with Bahasa Malaysia in its degree of importance.

The ministry will introduce a revised SPM History curriculum in 2017 as in that year the cohort which started Form One in 2013 would have reached Form Five. Fresh elements to be incorporated when the History syllabus begins its new cycle are ‘patriotism’, ‘citizenship’ and ‘the constitution’, which by extension implicates the so-called social contract.

Muhyiddin said the reason for the move to expand the History syllabus is so that patriotism can be instilled in Malaysian youths.

On Dec 16 – responding to objections raised by some quarters on his proposal – Muhyiddin guaranteed that the government does not have any “ulterior motives” and reiterated that the government in its decision “only want to introduce a history education to appreciate [patriotism] to help them [the Fifth Formers] become more patriotic”.

Is this the real agenda of Umno and the Ministry of Education bureaucrats and their support group of academics or is this another Umno political lie? Read the rest of this entry »


Robert Fisk’s World: Malaya 1948: another shameful episode in Britain’s colonial past

April 10, 2010

Some 24 innocent villagers were killed by Scots Guards in a pre-Vietnam My Lai

Tham Yong died 11 days ago. I bet there’s not a single reader who remembers that name, unless they happen to live in Malaysia or, like me this week, happened to be in Kuala Lumpur and to read the disgracefully weak-kneed report of Tham Yong’s demise in the capital’s equally disgraceful daily newspapers. A more grovelling, politically neutered, slovenly form of journalism outside Malaysia it would be difficult to discover, and it was typical that The Straits Times, once a serious journal of record (albeit of the colonial variety) decided to report the 78-year-old woman’s death from advanced cancer on page 18.

A bit odd. Because Tham Yong was the only surviving adult witness to the massacre of 24 innocent Chinese Malay villagers by 14 soldiers of the Scots Guards during what the British called the “Malayan Emergency”. This was when, in one of their very few successes in a guerrilla campaign, the British crushed the fighters of the Communist Party of Malaya who were struggling for 12 years to win what they called the “Anti-British War”.

The slaughter at the village of Batang Kali – the victims were rubber tappers and tin mine labourers – took place on 12 December 1948. Our colonial authorities insisted that the unarmed Chinese Malayan men were guerrillas who had tried to escape their captors and, in the giveaway words of a British police officer in Singapore, “the Scots Guards had been well placed, and the bandits just ran into their guns. Everyone was killed”. Read the rest of this entry »