Half  of Form IV history subject is now on Islamic history as compared to one-sixth in the textbook used for over a decade – a consequence of the “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic State and indication of more Islamisation to come

when launching the DAP’s 46th National Day Celebrations and the  “Defend Secular Malaysia” campaign in Bagan
Lim Kit Siang

(PenangFriday): The  arbitrary, undemocratic and unconstitutional “929 Declaration” that Malaysia was an Islamic State made by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at the Gerakan National Delegates’ Conference on Sept. 29, 2001 was  not an innocuous statement devoid of far-reaching implications for  Malaysians. 

Its full impact and  implications, whether short, medium or long-term on political, economic, educational, social, religious, legal and citizenship rights of Malaysians would unfold should the “929 Declaration” receive national  endorsement and mandate in a landslide Barisan Nasional victory in the next general election, for it would have the chilling  effect of shutting out legitimate criticism of such a tectonic albeit  unconstitutional shift in the 46-year nation-building process from a democratic, secular, multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State to an openly-avowed Islamic state. 

Even now, before there is any national endorsement or mandate for the “929 Declaration” from a landslide  Barisan Nasional  general election victory, far-reaching changes in the wake of the “929 Declaration” are already afoot. 

In December 2001, DAP forced the withdrawal of the Information Ministry booklet, Malaysia Adalah Sebuah Negara Islam (Malaysia is an Islamic State) published by its Special Affairs Department, objecting to its  insensitivity and being offensive to non-Muslims and contrary to the Vision 2020 objective of a Bangsa Malaysia.

The 25-page booklet, written by Ustaz Wan Zahidi Wan Teh, a member of the National Fatwa Council, made disturbing and insensitive references to non-Muslims, including calling them unbelievers, kafirs (infidels) and dhimmi (non-Muslims who live in an Islamic state) and even touched on the imposition of kharaj (land tax on non-Muslims).

The sad fact is that if the Barisan Nasional wins a landslide victory in the next general election, the Information Ministry would be able take out the booklet from the stores, shake off their dust and  circulate them   on the ground that the “929 Declaration” has received legitimacy from national  endorsement and mandate in the polls.

Many efforts and events are in the works  based on the assumption that the Barisan Nasional will get a landslide general election victory which would be used as a national endorsement and mandate for the full implementation of the “929 Declaration” in all aspects of national life.                    

This year, the text-book for Form IV history, a compulsory subject, was changed with half of the subject devoted to Islamic history as compared to  only one-sixth in the textbook used for the past  decade.  Is this a consequence of the “929 Declaration” in September 2001 and an indication of more Islamisation to come?

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.  Among the historical figures to be found in the old textbook but omitted in the new textbook include: Aristotle, Adam Smith,  Ferdinand Magellan, John Locke, Karl Marx, Koxinga, Kwame Nkrumah, Thomas Jefferson and  Thomas Paine.   Tunku Abdul Rahman and Dato Onn bin Jaffar, both of whom were mentioned in the old textbook, have also been dropped in the new textbook.

Educationists and historians should review the next Form IV history textbook, to ascertain whether we want all Malaysians, both Muslim and non-Muslim students, to be better versed in Islamic history or world history.  Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad should make a ministerial statement in Parliament next Tuesday to explain why there has been such drastic changes and whether the government wants to prepare the new generation of Malaysians to face the  challenges of globalization or merely that of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) world. 


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman