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History students must be taught that “Ketuanan Melayu”is a concept pertaining to a past historical era but not pertinent to Malaysia of today as it contradicts the Bangsa Malaysia concept of Vision 2020

Speech in the debate on the Interim Report of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Unity and National Service (part 3)        
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Dewan Rakyat, Thursday) : Parliament has set up the Select Committee on unity and national service to grapple with difficult and hard issues pertaining to national unity and nation-building. 

The task and challenge of the Select Committee is to wrestle with these great issues and give its considered recommendations “and not just transmit the government’s stand or views. 

I find that on many issues raised by those who attended the public hearings of the Select Committee, the Select Committee took the easy way out by responding either with “take note” (ambil maklum) or “acknowledges comment” (memperakui ulasan) based on the relevant Ministries’ official replies. 

This is utterly useless as this is not the role for which the Select Committee had been set up by Parliament and it should not shirk from its duty to take a stand on the issues pertaining to national unity and integration which had been brought to its attention. 

Let me give one illustration.   

I refer to the submission by the DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng to the Select Committee on 29th April 2005 on education .  The topic, as noted in page 88 of the report, is to “eliminate racist concepts” in Form 3 and Form 5 history textbooks which dwelt on the concept of “Ketuanan Melayu”. 

The explanation from the Education Ministry is as follows: 

Istilah “Ketuanan Melayu” perlu dilihat dalam konteks perjuangan orang Melayu sebelum merdeka yang menganggap Semenenjung Tanah Melayu  sebagai tanah pusaka (sons of the soil) seperti yang diakui oleh pihak penjajah British ketika itu. Istilah ini juga merujuk kepada situasi sebelum merdeka yang menjelaskan reaksi orang Melayu terhadap penubuhan Malayan Union yang telah menghapuskan “Ketuanan Melayu” dari segi kedaulatan, kuasa politik dan isu kewarganegaraan yang longgar. “Ketuanan Melayu” dilaungkan oleh pemimpin Melayu pada ketika itu bagi menyatupadukan orang Melayu menentang Malayan Union dan bukannya menuntut kemerdekaan. Oleh itu, konsep ini ialah peristiwa dan reality sejarah pada ketika itu dan ia dimasukkan bukan bertujuan untuk menggugat perpaduan masyarakat Malaysia

What is the Select Committee’s position? An insipid position of “Jawatankuasa memperakui ulasan Kementerian”. This is totally unsatisfactory. 

The question is whether history students in schools are clearly told that the concept of “Ketuanan Melayu” is a concept pertaining  to a past historical era but not pertinent to Malaysia of today as it contradicts with the Bangsa Malaysia concept of Vision 2020, and if not, what is being done to give the new generation of Malaysia a correct picture and true perspective on nation-building. 

This is what I look forward to in the final report of the Select Committee.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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