KUALA LUMPUR, 6 May 2009: A scholar today proposed that history be made a must-pass core subject in all schools and universities in the country to help forge the Malaysian identity, especially among the younger generation.
The director of Universiti Malaya’s Academy of Malay Studies, Assoc Prof Datuk Zainal Abidin Borhan, said this would not only make Malaysians history-savvy but also strong pillars of the nation’s civilisation.
He said it would also be apt if history was stressed upon at the pre-school level to instil the nationalistic spirit in individuals from young.
“Today’s society appears steady on the outside but shaky inside. Without a strong foundation in history, we are easily caught or trapped when people start questioning our origins, for example,” he told Bernama.
He was asked to comment on the call by Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong for school history textbooks to be reviewed so as not to omit facts such as the contributions of the Chinese and Indians to the country’s independence and development.
Zainal Abidin said the history textbooks used in schools and institutions of higher learning were written based on facts that were researched and verified for their authenticity.
He said while the non-Malays were part of the country’s history, their contribution was more towards economic development although they had been brought in by the British colonial government originally to work in the rubber plantations and tin mines.
“The Malays are not a selfish people as they were willing to share this country with the non-Malays as well as the rights as citizens,” he said.
Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also Education Minister, said the history textbooks could be reviewed but the contents must still be based on truth and facts as history could not be changed or augmented. — Bernama