Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Our Universities, Our Animal Farm

As Malaysians, we have always liked to think of ourselves as being among the better and more progressive societies. Yes, we have our glaring shortcomings but most of us wouldn't think that these shortcomings will put us with the worst of countries out there. However, it is events such as the disgraceful publication of a ethnic relations textbook as blogged here yesterday, which really makes you wonder - are we any different?

The blatant revisionist tendencies (and acts of passing off fiction as historical facts) by the writers and editors, Dr Zaid bin Ahmad and Prof Jayum Jawan, of Universiti Putra Malaysia has clearly brought forth the "world-class" quality of our institutions of higher learning.

After nearly 50 years of nation building, if we as Malaysians, and the individual respective communities which forms Malaysia are unable to accept the roles played by all parties, the mistakes made and lessons learnt from historical incident, and remain incorrigible with our culture of denial and blame - are we any better than the other countries which we love to criticise?

Are we any better than sections of the Japanese government and society which refuses to admit the gross acts committed against humanity in Korea, China and Southeast Asia by "glossing" over the World War in the historical textbooks? Are we possibly any better than those claim the Holocaust was but a figment of our imagination?

What is possibly worse, or at least equally terrible, is how an innocuous ethnic relations textbook can be converted into a tool for political indoctrination. Even the normally patient Dr Khoo Kay Kim, Professor Emeritus of History at Universiti Malaya was vocally upset with elements of the text. As reported in the excellent expose by Malaysiakini:
...the textbook said "the (BN) symbol of the scale shows that the BN is a party that emphasises equal and equitable rights between its component parties and, indirectly, presses for equal rights among all groups.

"BN gives emphasis to efforts at ensuring that all races are represented through the practice of power-sharing in order to guarantee peace, prosperity, harmony amongst all Malaysians regardless of ethnic affiliation. In line with that, BN emphasises national unity and ensures a system of governance for the whole populace."

Khoo expressed regret that such a subject had been rendered into an exercise in indoctrination rather than an objective analysis of the state of ethnic relations in the country.
If the above doesn't make our "world-class"-wannabe universities a Orwellian "Animal Farm", I'm not sure what does. How different are we from the political indoctrination exercises meted out by the communist regimes of Maoist China and Stalinist Russia? Are all Malaysians are equal, but some of us are just more equal than others?

In accordance to an earlier announcement back in January by the National Accredition Board, "the 600,000 students... must also pass the paper to qualify for certificates, diplomas or degrees." Hence anybody who attempts a different (but possibly more truthful) interpretation of the historical events will not obtain their degrees. So, altogether now, "Two legs good, four legs bad; two legs good, four legs bad..."

The joke is, Prof Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, the project director for the new subject claims that
...the thrust of the curriculum is to broaden the minds of Muslim students who are inward looking and of non-Muslims who have an unfounded fear of Islam, and eventually, mould Malaysians into “towering personalities”.

“The aim is to eliminate stereotyping or preconceived notions that the various races have of each other. The course will enable us to look at ourselves. This will help us address the reality of this country and how to connect with each other."
Given the fierce and angry backlash the "textbook" has unleashed to date, there have been some murmurs that the "textbook" isn't an "official" textbook, and that it was completed in a rush, and that it is still not in some late draft stages. These are not acceptable excuses at all. Such biased, historical fiction and hatred-inducing text should not have existed even in a draft of the rawest form if its intent had been to promote harmony and integration.

If the Government is sincere in recognising the mistakes made, it needs to not only drastically revise the offending text, but also punish the culprits responsible for being a disgrace to our Malaysian academia. Go on, demote the two editors responsible for the book - Dr Zaid bin Ahmad and Prof Jayum Jawan, or better still, give them the sack. Show that we are serious about academic excellence and not brown-nosing champions. I'm sure the majority of my readers will agree.


Anonymous said...

The two authors just showed the callibre of Universiti Putra Malaysia. Really disappointing and not at all awe inspiring. A real shame.

Anonymous said...

I wonder why the student councils in IPTA and their leaders are still keeping mum or 'sleeping' over this matter. Are they being shackled by UUCA for far too long? They are supposed to be to most proactive front to oppose this trash!

Anonymous said...

It is a sad development.

Anonymous said...

is the text from this book published somewhere online? many of us overseas would like to see what it says

Anonymous said...

Being a mature multi-racial country signifies that the citizens irrespective of race should be able to accept all the shortcomings of our past and work towards a common goal of our multi-culture nation.

As far as i can recalled, Independence of Malaysia was achieved through the effort of all the races. If we are to blame the chinese for the May 13 riot and the indians for the Tmn Medan riot.

Therefore, it is only logical to blame the colonization by the West on the Malays since they were the rulers at that time. Maybe the 2 'UPM Experts' should add this to the guidebook as well.

Anonymous said...

Who is this so called Professor from Universiti Kebangsaan??? The way he presents the argument is definitely a 'shame' of the status of a well learned person to be given the title of 'professor'. hehe

Anonymous said...

I am truly amazed at the disgust shown over that textbook (or "guidebook", as it is now being re-named). I thought we should have by now been numb to such actions and words spewing forth over the decades in utterly irresponsible fashion. I think there is a typo somewhere - I believe the authorities want to change us, not into "towering" Malaysians, but "cowering" Malaysians. Some clarification will be appreciated here.

Anonymous said...

if we look at america, we know that the african americans were 'second-class' citizens for a long time although slavery was abolished early on and it was only in the last century that they had demanded for equal rights as an american citizen, what with having to fight american wars and all.

unless the 'other' communities in our country also rise to the occasion and demand for equal rights, we will forever be 'second-class' citizens in a 'peaceful', 'harmonious', 'multi-racial' country.

yes i know, that's not an original idea, but can we do it without spilling blood?


Anonymous said...

well... SUQIU tried to do it and is now branded as extremists...


Anonymous said...

What does HELP, Institute of Graduate Studies (defunct) and Cyberlynx have in common? Same people.

Anonymous said...

Both Dr Zaid bin Ahmad and Prof Jayum Jawan have seemingly allowed personal conviction to overrun historical facts of the infamous national tragedy. I wonder it is only a lone wolf howl in the wilderness ………

Anonymous said...

Relax folks, this isn't the first time the government twisted historical facts. All our textbooks since secondary school were twisted, so what is the big deal about tertiary level as well?

We always shout openly that we stand as Malaysian, but are we? We have no idea what kind of "ceramah" were given at the back door - in the mosque or during islamic studies in schools. Those hatred could have been seeded during those times. If it was our education system's fault, all other ethnic would have the same kind of thought! But why aren't we?

About "..after almost 50 years of nation building..," i personally think it should be "..after 50 years of discrimination..." The country has gone from bad to worse. Well done BN!!

Anonymous said...

Can any one here write out the lyrics of UMNO national anthem? The one the jokers always sing during their convention?

Anonymous said...

This maybe out of topic but I believe it is match to the topic title "Our Universities, our animal farm". It happen on 18th July at UPM, just have a look on the movie clips, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Md064ajvZ0U&search=UPM%2C%20Malaysia
To let you understand the whole incident, you can read at

I'm sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Anonymous said...

You are right. Those hooligans do behave like baboons.

Anonymous said...
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