DAP calls on MPs whether BN, BA or DAP to take a common stand in Parliament tomorrow to demand the immediate   withdrawal of the  new  Form IV history textbook “SEJARAH – Tingkatan 4”and the reinstatement of the old previous textbook “Sejarah Peradaban Dunia – Tingkatan 4” to produce students prepared to face global challenges instead of being experts in Islamic history

Speech (2)
meeting of Perak DAP Branch leaders
by Lim Kit Siang

(IpohMonday): Tomorrow, Parliament will reconvene for a 40-day meeting from September 2 to November 6, which will debate the 2004 Budget after its presentation in the Dewan Rakyat on Friday, September 12, 2003. 

The coming Parliamentary meeting will be unique and unprecedented, for it will be the first time in the nation’s history that Parliament will meet with an incumbent Prime Minister but adjourn under a new Prime Minister, as Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad would have passed the baton of  premiership to Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in less than two months after  the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) Summit in Putrajaya from 16th to 18th October, 2003 – before the end of the parliamentary meeting. 

No specific date has been announced as to when Mahathir would formally step down as the longest-serving Prime Minister of Malaysia, but it will be in the last ten days  of October, as he has another  final  international conference to attend after the OIC Summit – the APEC Summit in Bangkok on October 20-21 -  before he relinquishes the premiership after more than 22 years.  

There are some opposition leaders and commentators who do not expect Abdullah to take over as the fifth Prime Minister by the end of October, as they believe  that Mahathir would find a reason to stay on, including dissolving Parliament and holding general elections soon after the presentation of the 2004 Budget on Sept. 12, so that the parliamentary debate on the budget next year is truncated and aborted in mid-course, which was what happened to the 2000 Budget presented at the end of October 1999, when  Parliament was suddenly dissolved  for the holding of 1999 general elections, aborting the parliamentary budget debate. 

There is nothing in law and the constitution to prevent Mahathir from repeating what he had done in 1999, except politics and the dynamics of the passing of the baton from him to Abdullah. 

Unless Mahathir has decided on the drastic decision to change the succession plan or to humiliate Abdullah and undermine the latter’s political authority, legitimacy and survival chances when he takes over as the fifth Prime Minister, the possibility that Mahathir could dissolve Parliament to personally lead the Barisan Nasional in the next general election is completely unthinkable. 

It is for this reason that I have always held that the next general elections would be after Abdullah has taken over as Prime Minister, who will have to decide when to dissolve Parliament – which could be either end of this year or early next year, depending on his political calculations as to which option is more favourable to  him and the Barisan Nasional. 

The 40-day parliamentary budget meeting starting tomorrow should complete its full session and not be aborted like the 2000 budget meeting.

I will like to take this occasion to call  on Members of Parliament  whether  from Barisan Nasional, Barisan Alternative  or DAP to take a common stand in Parliament tomorrow to demand the immediate   withdrawal of the  new  Form IV history textbook “SEJARAH – Tingkatan 4” and the reinstatement of the old previous textbook “Sejarah Peradaban Dunia – Tingkatan 4” to produce a new generation of students  prepared to face global challenges instead of being experts in Islamic history. 

It is most shocking that the old textbook “Sejarah Peradaban Dunia – Tingkatan 4” which had been used for 11 years since 1991 has been replaced with the new textbook “SEJARAH – Tingkatan 4” for the compulsory Form IV history subject, changing the whole curriculum and character of the history taught to our students.

Can the  Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad explain the rationale and justification as to why  new  Form IV history textbook “SEJARAH – Tingkatan 4” has  50%  content  on Islamic history and only 10 per cent on world history when the previous textbook used for over a decade had two-thirds content on modern world history? 

Are we preparing the new generation of Malaysian students, both Muslims and non-Muslims, to face the challenges of globalization, the information and communications technology (ICT) and the 21st century or just to meet the challenges of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) world of 56 countries, comprising both  Islamic states  as well as secular states? 

Musa must be pressed for an answer in Parliament as to whether the change in the text-book for Form IV history with half of the textbook devoted to Islamic history as compared to  only one-sixth in the textbook used for the past  decade  is a consequence of the unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional  “929 Declaration” by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at the Gerakan National Delegates Conference on  September 29,  2001 that Malaysia was an Islamic state?

In the previous textbook, “Sejarah Peradaban Dunia – Tingkat 4”, Islamic history was one of the six chapters in the book, viz:

  1. Tamadun Awal Manusia
  2. Islam Mengubah Tamadun Manusia
  3. Perubahan Masyarakat Eropah dan Kesannya
  4. Revolusi: Fasa Baru Kehidupan Manusia
  5. Zaman Imperialisme Barat dan Reaksi Masyarakat Setempat
  6. Ke Arah Kerjasama Masyarakat Antarabangsa

In the new history textbook, starting this year, “SEJARAH – Tingkatan 4”,  Islamic history occupies half of the text, i.e. five of ten chapters, viz:

  1. Kemunculan Tamadun Awal Manusia
  2. Peningkatan Tamadun
  3. Tamadun Awal Asia Tenggara
  4. Kemunculan Tamadun Islam dan Perkembangan di Makkah
  5. Kerajaan Islam di Madinah
  6. Pembentukan Kerajaan Islam dan Sumbangannya
  7. Islam di Asia Tenggara
  8. Pembaharuan dan Pengaruh Islam di Malaysia sebelum Kedatangan Barat
  9. Perkembangan Eropah
  10. Dasar British dan Kesannya terhadap Ekonomi Negara

Although Islamic history has expanded from 16.6% to 50% from the old to the new history textbook, both prepared by Dewan  Bahasa dan Pustaka, Asian history and civilizations like Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and  Taoism have been relegated to greater marginalization  and lesser space.

Under the old text book, modern history from the Reformation and the Renaissance occupied prominent space, occupying two-thirds of the text; but in the new textbook, it has been crowded out by Islamic history to become only one of the ten chapters. 

Recently, both the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, had been lavishing high praises on the late Datuk Onn Jaafar,  calling on the people to remember his contributions, struggles and sacrifices.

But Onn Jaafar and Bapa Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman – whom Mahathir had also been calling on Malaysians to remember, protect and enhance his nation-building formula – were omitted in the new textbook although both were mentioned in the previous history textbook.  What is the reason for the dropping of Tunku and Onn Jaafar in the new history text and why the change in the  history curriculum by the Education Ministry?


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman