Loh Seng Kok

Parlimen Malaysia

Barisan Nasional MCA

Loh Seng Kok 卢诚国
Member of Parliament for Kelana Jaya
雪州格拉那再也区国会议员
(2004 - Feb 2008)

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Interpreting the roles of non-Malay Malaysians

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2009/04/11
Interpreting the roles of non-Malay Malaysians

The pre-Islamic ruins at Lembah Bujang in Merbok, Kedah, are just one of the marks that Hindu civilisation left on the physical and intangible landscape of Malaya.
The pre-Islamic ruins at Lembah Bujang in Merbok, Kedah, are just one of the marks that Hindu civilisation left on the physical and intangible landscape of Malaya.


 

IN the 1930s, the British administration faced fierce opposition from the working class, largely made up of Chinese at the time, says Dr Kua Kia Soong, director of Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), a human rights organisation.

In one of the first shots at inter-ethnic political alliance, Pusat Tenaga Rakyat (Putera), a left-wing coalition of militant and moderate Malays, partnered with the Chinese-dominated All Malaya Council of Joint Action. In October 1947, the coalition organised a general strike -- a "hartal" -- that brought the country to an economic standstill to put pressure on the British government.

The Japanese Occupation in 1941 was met with fierce resistance from local nationalists. The British had supplied arms to the Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) -- in effect, the CPM -- making it the most potent anti-Japanese guerilla movement and well-organised military group in the country, writes Wong Tze Ken, associate professor in the Department of History, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Malaya, in the first volume of the book, Malaysian Chinese and Nation Building.

The move gave MPAJA an edge, and the means, to wage war against the British after the Japanese surrender in 1945.

"The CPM ideology and struggle had no place in the nation-building agenda as it eventually became irrelevant as the country moved ahead after independence," says Wong.
 

Prof Tan Sri Khoo Kay Kim agrees, as the vision of communism was one of classlessness and statelessness.

Under the gaze of a different generation, the joining of forces between the Malayan Chinese Association and the United Malays National Organisation -- the Alliance Party -- for the 1952 Kuala Lumpur municipal elections spearheaded the country's seminal independence movement. The Alliance scored a landslide victory, winning nine of the 12 seats contested.

That solidarity was a turning point, says Khoo. For the first time, the Alliance convinced the British that independence might actually work.

Dr Voon Phin Keong, director of the Centre for Malaysian Chinese Studies, thinks the subject of history is best left to the historians or specialists in the area. "It should not be left to just anyone. School history textbooks should be written by a panel of historians and subjected to review by a different panel."

Kua thinks textbooks are not needed in the age of the Internet. Instead, students should learn to access all available resources with the teacher acting as the facilitator in the classroom. "History in education is about uncovering the truth," says Kua.

And truth, as we all know, is subject to interpretation. -- YHJ

 

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Last modified:  Monday, August 10, 2009