Maszlee Malik slams Umno youth chief over allegations that PH altered contents of Form 4 history textbooks

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Former education minister Maszlee Malik has slammed Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki over his claims that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration had a hand in changes to the contents of Form 4 history textbooks.

Earlier today, Asyraf had urged the education ministry to correct some content in the textbooks that he claimed glorified communists as independence fighters.

He claimed this was intentionally done by PH when in government to “sow the seeds” of the “Malaysian Malaysia” ideology.

In a lengthy statement, Maszlee explained that the new History textbooks under the Secondary School Standard Curriculum (KSSM) replaced the old Secondary School Integrated Curriculum (KBSM) in 2017 after the Education Ministry revamped the subject in 2014.

He 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.

He added that the Education Ministry had enlisted several local academic experts for the current curriculum and added that they are still active in their profession.

He named them as Professor Shamrahayu Aziz with the International Islamic University of Malaysia; Prof Kamaruzaman Yusoff of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia); Prof Emeritus Abdullah Zakaria Ghazali and Ho Hui Ling who are both from Universiti Malaya; Prof Sivamurugan Pandian from Universiti Sains Malaysia; Prof Rohani Abd Ghani from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia; and Associate Professor Bilcher Bala from Universiti Malaysia Sabah.

“The process of drafting a curriculum takes several years and it involves a panel of experts well-versed in history. Once a curriculum is drafted, it goes through a pilot test in real schools to ensure its effectiveness while getting the views of teachers implementing the curriculum.

“This means that for textbooks printed in 2019 and used in 2020, the process (of coming up with the content) would have started in 2014 or 2015.

“It is really impossible for PH to have done all this in its first year in the government,” he said, while pointing out that the education minister during the formulation of the curriculum was from Umno.

Asked if he would consider taking legal action against Asyraf over his claims, he said the backlash against the Umno Youth chief’s careless accusations was more than enough.

Maszlee served as education minister from May 2018 until his forced resignation in January 2020, before the collapse of the PH government.

According to Asyraf, the revision was a deliberate and subtle attempt by PH during its brief 22-month rule to “plant the seeds of the Malaysian Malaysia ideology” and condition students into thinking that socialism and communism is not bad.

“More disappointing when there are also elements of slandering the Malays as a pimp or a vassal of the Japanese army against the Communists and MPAJA,” he said in his Facebook page and referred to page 75 of the Form Four History Textbook.

The MPAJA stands for the Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army, which was a resistance group comprising mostly ethnic Chinese but also Malays and other locals during the Japanese occupation of Malaya during World War Two.

“Subtly and implicitly, the previous Pakatan Harapan government had elevated the Communist and MPAJA members as officers and fighters of independence who should be given recognition,” Asyraf claimed.

The Umno politician also posted a copy of page 129 of the history textbook on his Facebook page, which explained the role of the Malay Nationalist Party (PKMM) led by figures such as Ahmad Boestamam, Burhanuddin Helmi and Ishak Mohammad. Asyraf claimed the contents glorified the leftist movement.

Two days ago, Yayasan Kasih Tauhid went to the police alleging the revisions in the Form Four History Textbook to be a criminal act and demanded an investigation into its contents, with the aim that it will be banned.

The non-government organisation claimed it was representing the coalition of Islamist organisations known as Pembela and filed the police report at the Section 9 police station in Shah Alam, Selangor.

Meanwhile, former deputy education minister Teo Nie Ching also said PH was never involved in the review process of school textbooks, saying it had left the job to professionals.

Teo said the review of the curriculum and textbooks had started in 2017, involving historians, public university lecturers, history teachers and curriculum officers from the panel of history curriculum experts and history textbooks.