Form 4 history textbook vetted by multiracial panel, involved fact-check by National Archives, National Museum

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The current edition of Malaysia’s Form 4 History textbook, which was recently the subject of controversy, actually had its contents checked by a multiracial panel of history experts in April 2018, with the facts even sent to government bodies such as the National Archives and National Museum for review, the Education Ministry (MOE) said today.

The MOE explained that the Form 4 History textbook under the Secondary School Standard Curriculum (KSSM) is based on the Standard Curriculum and Assessment Document (DSKP), as well as the ministry’s standard operating procedures for the publishing of textbooks which were updated in 2018.

“On April 24, 2018, the Form 4 History DSKP KSSM was scrutinised, checked and validated (diteliti, disemak dan diperakui sah) by the expert panel on MOE’s history curriculum and history textbook. They are history experts, totalling seven (7) from various specialities and races,” the ministry said in a statement written in Bahasa Malaysia.

The ministry went on to say that the Form 4 History DSKP KSSM was guided by or based on the 2011-2012 report by a special committee which had reviewed MOE’s history curriculum and history textbook for secondary school.

The selection of the author of the textbook was based on procedures for the publication of the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka textbook package and had complied with specific criteria, including a background in history education and experience in writing history textbooks, the ministry said.

As for the publication process of the Form 4 History textbook under KSSM, the ministry said it had gone through a strict quality control process, covering the mapping of contents, writing of manuscripts, preparation and checking of the page proofs, camera-ready copy, sample copy, textbook cover appreciation and approval of sample copy to prepare the distribution copy.

This process involved a panel of history experts on MOE’s history curriculum and history textbook, the committee on improving the quality of textbooks, the committee of external readers and a technical evaluation committee.

“To mewasitkan (determine) certain facts, MOE obtained verification of historical facts and content from government agencies that were involved, such as the National Archives, National Museum, Malaysian Historical Society, the Election Commission and the state government secretary,” the ministry said.

The ministry stressed that the Form 4 History textbook under KSSM had complied with all publication processes to ensure its quality “including accuracy of facts”, adding that it was always committed to doing its best.

A few days ago, non-government organisation Yayasan Kasih Tauhid, which is said to be part of Islamist groups coalition Pembela, was reported to have filed a police report in Shah Alam, Selangor, where it had complained about alleged revisions in the Form 4 History textbook over alleged inclusion of content purportedly recognising communists as having contributed to Malaya’s independence struggle.

Ahmad Zamzahuri

Yesterday, Umno Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki claimed that the current Form 4 History syllabus was revised as an alleged deliberate attempt by the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) government during its brief 22-month rule from May 2018 to February 2020 to purportedly condition students into thinking that socialism and communism is not bad.

Among other things, Asyraf Wajdi said Umno Youth wanted the MOE to immediately withdraw the Form 4 History textbook and restore the facts that were allegedly manipulated.

In response to Asyraf Wajdi’s statement, Maszlee Malik who had held the position of education minister during most of PH’s rule said the Form 4 History textbook was based on a process that had started and taken place when Barisan Nasional (BN) was government and the education minister was from Umno.

In a lengthy statement, Maszlee explained that the new History textbooks under the KSSM replaced the old Secondary School Integrated Curriculum (KBSM) in 2017 after the MOE revamped the subject in 2014, with textbooks printed in 2019 and used in 2020 being based on a process that started from 2014/2015.

Among other things, Maszlee explained that the contents of the current History textbooks follow the Standard Curriculum and Assessment Document (DSKP), which narrates the country’s political, economic and social historical events chronologically.

Prior to PH taking over as federal government following the May 2018 elections, the BN coalition was ruling as government.

The federal government now is under the Perikatan Nasional grouping, which became government from March 2020 onwards. – MMO