Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Why Erroneously Revise History?

Written by johnleemk on 2:10:29 pm Jul 6, 2007.
Categories: ,

There is a noticeable tendency for Malaysians, especially those not fond of the establishment, to wax nostalgic about the ostensibly better past, or to revise our current interpretation of history.

For example, there is a particular fondness among some, mainly non-Malays upset with the establishment, to unjustly glorify the Malayan Communist Party. It is one thing to recognise that many communists fought the Japanese — it is another thing to eagerly emphasise this while downplaying the fact that most communists later ended up murdering innocent Malaysian civilians.

Then there is also a particular eagerness to claim that Malaysian independence should be dated to 1963, not 1957, and that Malaysia is actually constituted of three units — West Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak — because these three territories supposedly merged as equals in 1963.

These are historical myths which are not too hard to debunk, and yet they stubbornly persist. There is a great desire amongst Malaysians to revisit the past, to think of it as different.

And why? The only apparent motivation I can see here is a desire, whether conscious or unconscious, to "stick it to the man" — to say, "Hey, your biased interpretation of history is fucked up, and is being used to justify the oppression of Malaysians!"

But why must we rely on fabricated facts and half-truths to back up our case for just and fair treatment for Malaysians? Why do we need to make up stories or modify our history to give our case against the establishment greater credibility?

IF we want to be fair to the East Malaysians, how do we help them by dating our independence to 1963 instead of 1957? It gives us a cheap feel-good sensation, but what is its actual real effect on their position in the country? Nil.

And of what legal value is it to claim that the East Malaysians should split the federal allocation to the states 50-50 with West Malaysia when West Malaysia has 11 states, and the Federal Constitution treats the country as a federation, without any division into West and East Malaysia?

There are far better arguments for helping the East Malaysians, for integrating them into the essence of what it means to be Malaysian and for building their economy — it is a huge disservice to us all to dick around with these cheap historical shots at the establishment.

Likewise, if you want to criticise the establishment for, I don't know, its economic policies favouring the rich or its racial policies, there isn't a reason to drag things like the MCP or what-have-you into the picture. Our criticisms can and should stand on their own.

I recognise that my statements may sound like nothing more than knocking down strawmen — who would say such ridiculous things? Perhaps nobody, at least not explicitly.

But the intent of our historical revisionism is crystal clear, showing transparently through the tones of our speech and actions. If we want to revise our history, let's at least do it by sticking to the facts objectively, rather than allowing our dislike of the establishment to colour how we reinterpret our history.


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