KLSCAH says history textbooks have papered over the contributions of Yap Ah Loy, who helped build Kuala Lumpur in the early days. (KLSCAH pic)

PETALING JAYA: History textbooks written through the lens of only one ethnic group will not help to promote unity and will instead stand in the way of nation-building, says an NGO.

The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) believed the primary goal of history textbooks should be to elaborate on the nation’s history. However, a “lack of an all-encompassing” textbook would only narrow the students’ view on our history.

The statement comes after criticisms over the latest edition of secondary school history textbooks which many say are biased and inaccurate.

“KLSCAH believes that Malaysia is a country of diversity and that every ethnic group should have its place in our history. However, only recording the opinions of one ethnic group obviously cannot highlight and emphasise the nation’s concepts of diversity and inclusivity. It is not conducive to shaping a sense of national identity.

“Only by objectively restoring historical facts of our ethnicities in the country’s development, will citizens have a proud sense of identity and belonging as Malaysians,” it said in a statement today.

KLSCAH also believed that secondary history textbooks fail to mention prominent historical figures and important events.

These included the founding history of Kuala Lumpur and Yap Ah Loy, a man said to be largely responsible for the development of the city.

Citing the latest version of the Form Three history textbook, KLSCAH said it ignores historical facts about the contributions of the Chinese and Indians to the local community. There were only a few lines of text introducing them briefly.

“Kuala Lumpur – the capital of the country – has played a pivotal role in the development and influences of the entire country. What is regrettable is that this national history textbook rarely talks about its relevance.

“The British colonial officials elected Kuala Lumpur as the capital of the Federated Malay States for significant reasons. Apart from its strategic location, they had a great relationship with Yap Ah Loy who helped quell the civil war, re-establish social order and led the reconstruction of Kuala Lumpur.”

KLSCAH said the contributions of such historical figures (Malay or non-Malay) to the development of Kuala Lumpur have almost disappeared in the content of these textbooks with only a small section dedicated to them.

It proposed that the government seek scholarly opinions from all ethnicities, generate more research into introducing the development history of Kuala Lumpur and the contributions made by each ethnicity in the capital’s growth.

“KLSCAH believes that the education ministry has a responsibility to provide comprehensive historical facts, and not just autodidactic methods for students to search for information online.

“Is it enough for students to understand the entire founding history of Kuala Lumpur only by searching on Google?”

Retrieved from Free Malaysia Today

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