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.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?
"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.
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”.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.
“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."
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.