I REFER to the letter by Arof Ishak titled “Integration, not history, welds Malaysia” (The Star, Oct 17). I fully agree with him that objectivity and factuality are crucial to the discipline of history and that “history cannot be an instrument of the government to achieve political aims”.
So does Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim through his letter, “Welding 1Malaysia via history” (The Star, Oct 10). He states that our history textbooks “should be written in a factual manner without dressing them up to suit certain political aims”.
It does appear that Arof has shot himself in the foot because our school History textbooks definitely lack objectivity and factuality which he contends is the “only one approach to the discipline of history”.
“Objectivity” is generally defined as absence or lack of bias while “factuality” refers to factual accuracy. There is overwhelming evidence that our current History textbooks are Islamic and Malay-centric, a fact even acknowledged by numerous Malay academics including Abdul Razaq Ahmad, Ahamad Rahim, Ahmad Ali Seman and Mohd Johdi Salleh in their 2010 paper, “Malaysian Secondary School History Curriculum and Its Contribution towards Racial Integration”.
One of the goals of history education in our schools is “to cultivate the spirit of loyalty towards the nation and to instil a sense of pride to be Malaysians”. Hence, Mohd Sheriff is absolutely correct in stating that our History textbooks “can play a big role in welding the various races into 1Malaysia”.
We need to drive home the gospel truth that this great nation of ours was built by the blood, sweat and tears of various ethnic groups working together harmoniously. In this regard, our nation’s continued progress too depends on creating a truly united Bangsa Malaysia. We shall sink or swim together.
I am puzzled that Arof takes Mohd Sheriff to task for stating that the immigrant races “worked hard and took risks to create a better future for their families in their new homeland”. It’s true that a substantial number of pioneer non-Malay immigrants to Malaya were sojourners intending to work for a certain period and return home after making some money.
However, many of them subsequently decided to stay on and regarded Malaya as their new home. How else can we account for the fact that in 1931 the Chinese and Indians accounted for 53.2 % of Malaya’s population? Indeed, according to the 1947 census, the Chinese comprised 62.4% of the urban population of Malaya.
In the words of J. Kennedy (author of a 1962 book titled A History of Malaya), the “Malayan Chinese have increasingly come to regard Malaya as their homeland”.
DR RANJIT SINGH MALHI