Former deputy education minister Teo Nie Ching has today denied influencing the Form 4 History textbook to allegedly “glorify communism”, after she was accused of being responsible of doing so in an Umno Youth forum last night.
The DAP MP said she is considering suing Datuk Yazid Othman, the deputy chairman of a secretariat opposing the textbook who made the malicious claim, following former education minister Maszlee Malik’s sending a letter of demand to Umno’s Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki.
“All of Datuk Yazid Othman’s allegations are unfounded, malicious and unreasonable. I will discuss with lawyers to take legal action to defend my reputation and credibility during my tenure as deputy minister of education,” she said in a statement.
“Throughout my tenure at the Ministry of Education, my team and I at the Office of the Deputy Minister have never been directly or indirectly involved in the preparation of drafting and textbook printing, let alone changing the contents of the history textbook.
She added that Maszlee himself has already explained the process of how the textbooks were prepared.
Yazid Othman, who represents an education pressure group, made the claim during a discussion session with Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki posted on his Facebook page, entitled ‘Manipulated-History Textbooks – Communists were glorified?’ last night.
Asyraf had criticised Pakatan Harapan over two pages in the history textbook on the role played by radical Malay leftist leaders in fighting for independence and the Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army’s (MPAJA) battle against the Japanese occupation.
Yazid, the deputy chairperson of the Coalition of NGOs for Rejecting Form Four History Textbooks (BST4), claimed that there was an “unseen hand” manipulating the contents of Form Four history textbooks, including “glorifying communists” as independence fighters.
At last night’s discussion, Yazid said the allegation was made based on information he obtained himself after meeting with officials from the Education Ministry.
He said he did not want to reveal his sources to protect them
“An insider himself gave us the information, saying he received a phone call from the PH deputy education minister, saying ‘you changed this history book with the information I am sending now. It will reach you in 15 minutes. When you receive it, print it’,” he claimed the source said.
Although he did not mention the name outright, it is clear that Teo was the deputy education minister during the PH administration.
“It’s impossible that there is any intervention from me in that matter,” she said.
The Kulai MP added that she found it odd that a wing from Umno, who is itself part of the Perikatan Nasional government, is attacking a ministry.
“When I was deputy minister of education, we were often bombarded with various issues brought about by the Opposition. However, it is odd this time around because propaganda on the Form 4 History textbooks was initiated by one of their own,” Teo said.
On February 24, Asyraf alleged that the current syllabus was revised as an alleged deliberate attempt by the previous PH government during its brief 22-month rule from May 2018 to February 2020 to purportedly condition students into thinking that socialism and communism are acceptable.
Asyraf’s remarks came as earlier this week, non-government organisation Yayasan Kasih Tauhid reportedly filed a police report in Shah Alam, Selangor against the syllabus on behalf of Islamist groups’ coalition Pembela.
Yesterday, Maszlee had instructed his lawyer to issue a letter of demand to Asyraf demanding the latter issue an open apology and pay compensation for his allegations against the Form Four history syllabus.
The Simpang Renggam MP asked Asyraf to make an open apology and pay compensation for defamation regarding the issue.
Maszlee explained that the process of writing the textbook had already started in 2017 and, at that time, the education minister was Mahdzir Khalid who was from Asyraf’s own Umno party.
The ministry on Feb 25 also confirmed that the Form Four history textbook had gone through a strict quality control process covering various processes, before being certified since April 2018.
It was also vetted by a seven-member multi-racial panel of experts who are Associate Prof Shamrahayu Aziz (IIUM); Prof Kamaruzaman Yusoff (UTM); Prof Emeritus Abdullah Zakaria Ghazali (UM), Ho Hui Ling (UM); Prof Sivamurugan Pandian (USM); Associate Prof Rohani Abd Ghani (UKM) and Associate Prof Bilcher Bala (UMS).
Earlier today, Asyraf again defended his remark blaming the PH administration for allegedly manipulating the content in Form 4 History textbook to what he claimed was “glorifying communism”.
Speaking at the same forum held, he also refused to apologise to Maszlee Malik by claiming that he had never named the Simpang Renggam MP, even as the latter was the education minister in that administration.
“I did not mention his name. I just said that the contents of this Form 4 History textbook need to be withdrawn and need to be amended,” he reportedly said, referring to Maszlee.
“And the writing of the contents of this textbook was manipulated and happened during the PH government.”
He then claimed that the textbook needed Cabinet approval to enable the printing process.