-Dr. Toh Kin Woon
The LLG Cultural Development Centre urges the Federal Government to take cognizance of an important message to have come out of the recent debate on Mohamad Indera’s role as a patriotic fighter for our country’s freedom, which is that the left and progressive forces have contributed immensely to the struggle for Malaysia’s independence. In this regard, we also urge the Federal Government to review the contents of our schools’ history texts, with a view to accurately and objectively reflect the sacrifices and contributions of all who were genuinely involved in the anti-colonial struggles.
These of course include those of UMNO and its partners in the Alliance. In addition, however, our history texts should also describe and analyze in detail the roles and struggles of Kesatuan Melayu Muda (KMM), Parti Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya (PKMM), the Malayan Peoples’ Anti-Japanese Army, the All Malaya Council of Joint Action-Pusat Tenaga Rakyat (AMCJA-Putera), the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), the Labour Party and Parti Rakyat for freedom and independence from both Japanese and British imperial rule.
These important episodes have, however, been blatantly marginalized, even left out of our country’s historical narratives, as have been the struggles of the anti-Japanese forces during the period of the Japanese occupation; the Peoples’ Constitution, with its stress on democracy and equality, as drafted by the AMCJA-PUTERA Alliance; the 1947 hartal; the struggles of the labour movement in both Malaya and Singapore, before and after independence; the struggle of vernacular education movements; the role of the MCP in helping to shorten the transition to independence; the struggle of the Labour Party and Parti Rakyat for a socialist democratic Malaysia; the use of the Internal Security Act by the Alliance Government to cripple the left movement; the May 13 inter-ethnic conflict which was the result of the political machinations of certain political leaders and the students movement of the seventies and their struggles for a more socially just Malaysia.
As a result, official history texts, as they are presently structured, are unable to narrate accurately the trials and tribulations of Malaysian peoples’ heroic and courageous struggles, especially those of the progressive, patriotic and nationalist forces for independence, democracy, human rights, equality and social justice. Indeed, these have been by design either obliterated, or demonized. Given this deliberate distortion and creation of voids, the need to review our history texts with a view to correcting these distortions and filling the voids becomes all the more imperative and urgent.
Finally, the LLG Cultural Development Centre would like to appeal to the Federal Government and certain non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to respect the right to free speech of Mat Sabu, the Deputy President of Pas. Everyone and anyone should have the right to interpret history based on his or her values and the facts he or she has at hand. Up till now, many NGOs have made police reports. This is construed as intimidation. To us, theses actions are tantamount to restricting Mat Sabu’s right to free speech and freedom of expression. We are, however, relieved to hear the rational decision made by Dato Seri Hishamuddin Hussein that the Federal Government will not resort to the use of the ISA to detain without trial Mat Sabu. We also hope that both the police and the Attorney General will likewise respect the right of Mat Sabu to his interpretation of history and that they will not take any action against the latter.
Dr. Toh Kin Woon is the Chairman of LLG Cultural Development Centre)