HISTORY TEXTBOOK MUST BE OBJECTIVE,
REVIEW & CORRECTION SHOULD NOT BE DELAYED FURTHER
When receiving the MCA delegation on education, the Minister
of Education Dato’ Seri Hishamuddin expressed his hope that
the every five yearly review on history textbook which is
going to start soon not being politicised. He requested the
MCA representatives to look at the review of history
textbook from a wider perspective.
I am one of the representatives who met the minister. Though
I faced opposition after the parliamentary debate as I
raised the incomprehensiveness and imbalance in secondary
history textbook in its contents and syllabus, I did not
give up. Instead I initiated and formed a review group and
later obtained the recognition and acceptance of the MCA
leadership for the review paper.
In this review paper for secondary school history textbook,
we proposed for the MOE to set up a committee to re-look
into the curriculum. The selection of committee on
curriculum must have a balanced and multi-racial composition
to ensure the quality and balanced content of the history
I agree with the minister that the review of history
curriculum should not be politicised. However, the present
content of history textbook contains politically aligned,
incomprehensive and narrow views. That’s the reason why we
request for review.
For example, the history textbook touched on the issue of
‘Malay supremacy’ (Ketuanan Melayu), it also implies
that ‘foreign migrant’ (pendatang asing) who are now
still eyeing on the wealth of this country, and uses ‘secret
society’ (kongsi gelap) to name the Chinese clan
association in the 19th century, demeaning other
community or races. The teaching of history can influence
and shape the students of their attitude and mentality in
the future towards nation building. Thus the contents
description in the textbook can have negative effect in
their development towards a more narrow minded outlook.
Secondly, in the history textbook, it is mentioned that the
independence of our country was achieved through joint
efforts and cooperation of all races. However, a quotation
is being used subsequently which says that this state
belongs to the Malays and it should be returned to the
Malays. This is contradictory and against the spirit of
unity and definitely poses adverse effect in unity efforts
among all races.
Besides that, the history textbook also mentioned that only
the national primary schools can unite all races. This is to
say that the Chinese & Tamil primary schools cannot promote
unity. It is against the truth as the vernacular schools are
recognised by the government as part of the education system
which are opened to all, the curriculum and textbook used
are of the same syllabus as the national primary school,
emphasis loyalty to the king, nation and unity. Furthermore,
there are more & more non-Chinese studying in the Chinese
I also agree with the minister that the review of history
textbook must be looked at from a wider perspective.
We would the more like to see the writing and review of
history textbook from a wider and more comprehensive angle,
to enable students to think critically and understand the
development of the nation history and have a good
understanding of the past and evolution of other
civilisations in order to be able to live, understand and
compete with people of other cultures, societies and
religions. In other words, to be globally competitive.
However, in the Form 4 history textbook, there are 10
chapters. Five chapters touched on Islamic civilisation. The
old textbook used only one chapter that’s 35 pages to
mention Islamic civilisation. The new textbook uses 97 pages
to talk on Islamic civilisation. It uses 100 words / phrases
to mention Confucianism, 153 words / phrases to mention
Taoism. The old textbook used 330 words to mention
Confucianism and 220 words to mention Taoism respectively.
It mentioned about Buddhism and Hinduism but very little
about Christianity, only 208 words.
Those parts that contain narrow view and carry the meaning
of demeaning other races should be deleted.
Only by doing so will the teaching of history achieve it’s
purpose of helping the students to understand the past and
evolution of history in our nation and effective in bringing
unity and nation building.
Therefore, writing the history textbook must be objective,
review and correction of its syllabus and contents should
not be delayed further.
LOH SENG KOK
Former MP for Kelana Jaya.