MCA’s Loh Seng Kok, MP for Kelana Jaya went on a verbal rampage in parliament, raising issues that hitherto had been considered taboo, especially more so for a BN bloke.
He criticised our ‘imbalanced’ history textbooks, new prayer recital guidelines and the problems faced by non-Muslims with regards to places of worship.
I will touch on only one of those issues, his condemnation of ‘imbalanced’ history books.
Loh was damn mad that the approved syllabus and history textbooks were grossly deficient and negligent in that they ignored (1) the contribution of non-bumiputeras in Malaysia. and (2) focussed only on Islamic civilisation. In these limitations he reckoned the books would restrict exposure for the students and hamper their critical thinking.
He gave examples:
“For instance, the fight against the Japanese Occupation during World War II is portrayed as only the effort of the Malays but ignored the role of Chinese and Indian Malaysians.”
Sounds like a bit of the infamous Japanese or David Irving’s historical revisionism. I wonder whether those who compiled the syllabus have heard of Lim Bo Seng, who was caught and tortured by the Japanese to death but never revealed who and where his insurgent colleagues were. Lim was considered as the hero of Force 136 which he helped formed to fight against the Japanese during their occupation of Malaya.
Then there is the much hated Chin Peng, still considered as a villain by Malays today and barred from entry to Malaysia, even though some of his Malay communist colleagues have already been allowed to rejoin Malaysian society. Chin played a sterling role in the anti-Japanese campaign, and he was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) by the British after the war, when he also took part in the victory parade in London.
When I was a little kid, I lived next door to an old Chinese man who was a British secret agent during the war. He told me he escaped from the Japanese when his role was discovered by them, first by perahu (fishing boat) to the western side of Sumatra where he was then picked up by British (or was it Aussie) submarine and transported to Australia.
Of course during the Japanese occupation the Chinese were the principal victims of the men from Nippon for a variety of reasons, with many of them beheaded, brutally treated and beaten, or worse, tortured to death. Invariably the resistance by the Chinese armed groups in Malaya were the most vigorous.
According to newspaper archives, there was another attempt at historical revisionism on a different fact in our country. Several years ago, some young turks wanted to erase the role of Kapitan [Captain] Yap Ah Loy as the man who successfully rebuilt Kuala Lumpur after the Selangor Civil War and repopulated it with both Chinese and Malays, turning it into the prosperous city worthy of being accepted as the capital of Malaya. Fortunately for commonsense and historical truth, the government rejected the rather childish proposal to rewrite the history books.
Back to Loh – he said “Five out of the 10 chapters in the Form Four history textbook only focused on the Islamic civilisation.” In this he lamented that the syllabus has failed to provide a deeper understanding of other civilisations. While I support the study of Islamic civilisation I agree with Loh that there ought to be a reasonable balance.
In our own region alone there existed other equally important civilisations such as those of the Majapahits, Sri Vijayans, Khmers, Funans, Cholans, Chinese and various Indian periods. Then there were the (non-Islamic) Middle Eastern, Greek and Persian civilisations. I wonder whether the heavily weighted emphasis on Islamic civilisation, as lamented by Loh, has been a consequence of the 'holier-than-thou' one-up-manship between UMNO and PAS during the Mahathir era?
After Loh finished his coverage of the other two issues, he was warned by both an UMNO and a PAS MP. He was told not to thread on ‘dangerous grounds’.
I am surprised he was even allowed to finish his speech.