‘Maszlee, our history textbooks are riddled with errors, please correct them’

Tiang (right) and Foo hold up copies of the Primary 5 and 6 history textbooks.

KUCHING, Sept 8: Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Youth wing has spotted glaring errors in Primary 5 and Primary 6 history textbooks and wants the Ministry of Education to correct them.

Its chief, Michael Tiang, and its secretary-general Milton Foo said the errors and omissions pertained to Sarawak’s role in the formation of Malaysia. Tiang lamented that some of the errors in the Primary 5 history book was first discovered three years ago, and nobody bothered to rectify them.

“Today we also discovered some serious mistakes in historical facts contained in the Primary 6 textbook,” they said in a statement.

Tiang also pointed to the chapter ‘The birth of a new nation’ in the Primary 5 textbook. That section contained write-ups on events leading to the independence of the Federation of Malaya in 1957, but it mistakenly described the Federation of Malaya as “our nation”.

“We all know that Malaysia was only formed in 1963, and this is the country we belong to. The Federation of Malaya was established in 1957. This is the history. We must respect the history and, further, this is about education.

“If our education of history cannot teach facts, aren’t we teaching lies to our children? This is very important. We cannot do this to our education,” he opined.

Turning to the Primary 6 history textbook, Tiang said pupils are being taught that Malaysia consisted of 13 states since 1963 when in fact the country was formed by four territories, namely Federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo (Sabah then) in 1963.

He said the way the textbook was written was equivalent to artificially altering history between 1963 and 1976.

“This is not teaching history. The rest of the chapter is all about the 13 states in Malaysia. When Sarawak joined to form Malaysia in 1963, we were founding Malaysia in the status of a sovereign state.

“However, in 1976 the book said Sarawak was made to become one of the 13 states. We don’t want to go into details here, but if the textbook is teaching facts about 1963, then it should present the real facts to the pupils,” insisted Tiang.

Tiang claimed that three years ago, he and Foo had already singled out the errors to the Ministry of Education, but no action was taken.

“Although the present Minister of Education, Dr Maszlee Malik, has only been in office for a few months, aren’t there many more urgent matters than the choice of black and white school shoes? Aren’t errors in textbooks more important?

“We demand Dr Maszlee to immediately set up a special review committee to look into this problem. Yes, the textbooks were designed and published by the previous government, but the present government must rectify the errors swiftly instead of tolerating such errors,” he said. — DayakDaily