CHIEF Minister Datuk Patinggi Adenan Satem is definitely not one to waste any opportunity to voice the opinions of Sarawakians to the world whenever given the platform.
This time he has brought up the need to rewrite our school history syllabus to ensure it reflects the contributions of all Malaysians.
When I say all Malaysians, I mean Sarawakians and Sabahans. Yes we in the Borneo States have also contributed greatly to the formation of this nation and its development since September 16, 1963.
However, if I was still in school, I would probably have no idea that was so if I did not learn about Malaysia’s history from sources other than the prescribed textbooks.
I would also not know anything about Sarawak and Sabah’s unique history, other than a few lines in passing, which seem to trivialise our historical journey compared to that of Malaya.
That’s why our CM’s declaration on national television was such a breath of fresh air.
Never one to mince his words, Adenan also boldly stated the bias in current history textbooks.
“Why concentrate only on the history of the Malays? What about the other races?” he asked on TV3’s Soal Jawab talk show on Malaysia Day.
He highlighted the need for the contributions of Borneans such as Sabah’s first Chief Minister Tun Muhammad Fuad Stephens and third Chief Minister Tun Mustapha Harun, as well as Sarawak’s former Chief Minister and governor Tun Datuk Patinggi Abdul Rahman Yakub, Minister of Sarawak Internal Affairs Tun Datuk Patinggi Temenggong Jugah Barieng as well as our first Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Stephen Kalong Ningkan to the formation of our nation.
Adenan also highlighted the questionable policy of posting teachers from religiously conservative states like Kelantan and Terengganu to teach in non-Muslim areas.
He pointed out that this at times contributed to “misunderstanding due to religious and cultural differences”.
I salute our CM for putting these facts on record and seeking change.
Let’s ensure he has the mandate he needs to pursue the necessary changes so our children learn the real history of our country.
The Malaysian Insider’s story:
Rewrite history textbooks to include non-Malays’ contributions, says Sarawak CM
By Desmond Davidson
Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem said history text books used in schools must be rewritten so that they do not only focus on the Malays and the peninsular.
“Why concentrate only on the history of the Malays? What about the other races?” he asked on TV3’s Soal Jawab talk show last night.
Touching on Sarawak’s demand for greater autonomy, Adenan said the “lopsided” history books prompted the state to pursue autonomy in education.
He said at the moment, historical figures from other races or contributions of Sabahans and Sarawakians were not reflected in the school history books.
Adenan said contributions from people such as the first Sabah chief minister Tun Muhammad Fuad Stephens, the state’s third chief minister Tun Mustapha Harun and Sarawak’s former chief minister and governor Tun Abdul Rahman Yaakub, should also be taught in schools.
Stephens, the first Huguan Siou, or paramount leader of the Kadazandusun community, and Mustapha played a fundamental role in bringing Sabah into the Federation of Malaysia in 1963.
Stephens died in a controversial air accident on June 6, 1976, when the aircraft he was in crashed as it approached the Kota Kinabalu airport.
Mustapha, meanwhile, was also considered by some as the “father of Sabah’s independence” and the “father of Sabah’s development”.
The “flip flop” in education policy, particularly on the English language, was another reason why Sarawak wanted the autonomy back, Adenan added.
He said there were policy changes every time a new education minister takes over.
“It’s inconsistent and this confuses the people.
“Different education ministers have different direction. You must be consistent.”
He said he was also baffled that Malaysia did not place emphasis on teaching the English language.
“English is a universal language. It’s a language not only spoken in England.
“It’s a language used in science, literature and most other subjects.
“By placing emphasis on English does not mean we push aside Bahasa Malaysia. We can have both languages,” he said.
Adenan also questioned the policy of posting Muslim teachers, particularly those who are from religiously conservative states like Kelantan and Terengganu, to teach in non-Muslim areas, adding that it sometimes “create misunderstanding due to religious and cultural differences”.
He said it was not that Sarawak was not willing to accept the teachers but such postings could be described as “not appropriate”.
Sarawak’s demand for more autonomy, he said, was also on the belief that matters of regional concerns are best left to the state.
“Not everything must be given to Putrajaya and to be decided in Putrajaya.”
He, however, gave the assurance that Sarawak would still tow the national education policy even with autonomy.
Under the Malaysia Agreement of 1963, education was placed under the purview of the state.
“It seems as time passes by, these powers that are vested to the state had been taken over by the federal government.
“In the beginning, we didn’t pay too much attention to this but now people are more knowledgeable and want these powers returned,” he said, adding that demanding greater autonomy did not mean they were seeking secession.
“We just want what are ours back.” – September 17, 2015.