REFERRING to the letter, “Integration, not history, welds Malaysia” (The Star, Oct 17), I have to express my worries over the facts pointed out by the writer Arof Ishak.
The teaching of history is for one purpose – knowledge. And through knowledge of history, one can know about his/ her origins, his/ her place in the country and build patriotism (love for his/ her nation).
Due to the multicultural landscape and demographics of our beloved country, all of us need to understand one fact first: we are all legal citizens of Malaysia. We are all born in this beautiful country no matter where our forefathers came from.
If we were to take a stroll into the history of the formation of Malaysia, we would find that it all started with the formation of Melaka by Parameswara, who originated from Palembang (Srivijaya). He was a Hindu but his descendants started to believe in Islam. During his time, Melaka was already a port where traders from India and China were abundant. Some married the locals (orang laut) and started to settle there.
During the British administration between the 18th and 20th centuries, more Chinese from mainland China were brought in for tin mining while more Indians were brought to work in plantations. They were then immigrants as they were brought to work here and, as Arof mentioned, they were supposed to return to their country.
However, with many settlements being built, and as generations were born from 1786 onwards, many of these immigrant workers settled down in Malaya and contributed towards the booming economy in tin mining, trading and rubber estates, and became part of this beautiful country.
Their descendants were born in then Malaya and many have not set foot on their forefathers’ homeland.
In 1946, Umno and MIC were established, followed by MCA in 1949. These three parties represented the different races in Malaya and they were all receptive of each other as countrymen.
Led by Tunku Abdul Rahman, the three parties united to fight for independence, leading to the signing of the Declaration of Independence as well as the social contract spelling out the foundation of our beloved country in 1957.
If we were to compare the words and facts between the History textbooks in the 1990s and the current ones, you will see a lot of difference in the direction of the facts.
I agree with Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim that the racial partnership to defeat the communists and to make independence a success is important and should be emphasised as it took all races to stand united for these two purposes.
There should never be a problem of “lengthy” textbooks if the historical facts are important.
Arof actually contradicts himself on this point. Earlier on, he states that “there is only one approach to the discipline of history – objectivity and factuality”. He says that history should be based on facts but later on implies that some facts are to be omitted because the textbooks would be lengthy.
History must be told in full, with facts based on historical documents and findings, and there should be no half-baked textbooks. More importantly, there should be no alteration to history.
History, if taught in the right way, is important to educate our younger generation to appreciate the difficulties our forefathers faced to gain independence and in building the nation. It is the only way the younger generation will learn to integrate and stand united as one in our beautiful, multicultural country.
WONG TECK CHIOW