Tuesday, April 13

‘History textbooks must reflect contributions of all races’

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KUCHING: History textbooks must be changed to include the contributions of other races in the formation of Malaysia and its development.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem pointed out that the content of current History textbooks tended to concentrate on the history of the Malay community and Peninsular Malaysia.

“What about other important figures from Sabah and Sarawak who have made enormous contributions to the formation of Malaysia?” he asked during TV3’s ‘Question and Answer’ programme on Wednesday.

Adenan was elaborating on Sarawak’s demand for more autonomy in administration, especially in educational matters.

“Don’t forget about Abdul Rahman (Yakub), Sarawak independence heroes Tun Temenggong Jugah anak Barieng, Datuk Stephen Kalong Ningkan, the late Mustapha Datu Harun, and Tun Mohd Fuad Stephen,” he shared.

“There were also other races who have sacrificed to defend this country. They play important roles in the development of our country as well.”

Adenan emphasised the need to ensure stability within the teaching force with more local teachers serving throughout Sarawak.

He observed that Muslim teachers from states like Kelantan and Terengganu were often posted to non-Muslim-majority areas in Sarawak, where they have a low understanding of the needs of locals.

“This brings various problems and the local people are not satisfied. In the end, they want to go back,” he pointed out.

In addition, Adenan highlighted that education policies need to be more consistent with emphasis given to the English language besides Bahasa Malaysia.

“The English language cannot be sidelined because it is a universal language widely used in engineering, science and technology and so forth. We can lift up both English and Bahasa Malaysia.

“More importantly, we do not want our education policies to flip-flop every time a new education minister takes over. It is hard for people to cope with all these confusing changes,” he said, highlighting the short-lived implementation of teaching Science and Mathematics in English.

The devolution of power from federal to the state, he reiterated, is important to facilitate and expedite decision-making and prevent the overlapping of functions between government departments and agencies.

“For instance, Sarawak has JKR (Public Works Department) which is capable of implementing any project. So why does it have to be done by the central government?

“And on the distribution and deciding of projects, sometimes, we don’t even know there are projects from Kuala Lumpur being implemented in Sarawak,” he said.

Adenan highlighted the example of mini hydro projects.

“They don’t even understand and thought Sarawak has rain all year long. When the project was done, there was no water and in the end, the project was abandoned, losing millions of ringgit,” he said.

He pointed out that the people of Sarawak have a better understanding of the needs of the state and how to fulfil them.

However, Adenan stressed that demands autonomy must not be misinterpreted as a move to secede from Malaysia.

“We will continue to follow the national education system, as well as assist in matters such as security for example.

“We are Malaysia once, Malaysia now and Malaysia forever. We sing the same national anthem ‘Negaraku’,” he added.