I REFER to the letter “Narration of the history of nations” by Arof Ishak (The Star, March 5). While I appreciate the author’s effort in correcting June H.L. Wong’s understanding on the term “history” in “Day at the museum” (The Star, Feb 25), I would like to point to a few misconceptions in Arof”s letter.
“History”, as coined by the Greek historian, Herodotus, refers to “his-story”. This means that “history” refers to the study of the actual story that relates back to past information, presentations or memory.
It does not matter who the person articulating or conveying the facts is as long as it is historically correct and approved by facts and evidence.
As long as the information that has been passed down to the next generation is not politically or religiously motivated, one should whole-heartedly accept the history of our nation.
However, Arof had given an analogy that, “the history of Hong Kong is as narrated by the natives of Hong Kong, not by Indians who are now ‘citizens’ in Hong Kong”.
I find this example unacceptable. An ideal way of narrating unbiased, factual evidence should not be dictated by one’s roots or even nationality per se but one’s knowledge in that matter.
For example, an Australian professor who holds a Ph.D in American Civilisation is qualified to convey that history and facts to students.
Similarly, a lay person who is born and bred in the United States may not be qualified to teach the subject matter simply because he may not be well-versed and fully aware of the civilisation process.
Also, if the history of a nation is solely permitted to be taught by a certain ethnic group, there is a tendency that the actual history may be twisted and turned in favour of a particular group of people.
Just look at the Japanese history textbook. It raised international condemnation and stirred controversies in what many international observers deemed as biased as much of the data and facts had been smoke-screened.
Arof also pointed out that “when a Chinese immigrates, she passes into the stage of the end of history”. I have difficulty understanding this.
What I wish to point out here is that when a certain group of a different ethnicity immigrates to another country and settles there, they by definition are citizens of the country.
This means that they have fully assimilated into the culture, abide by the rules and laws of the nation and therefore will become part of the history of the nation down the road.
It does not mean that they have ended their history and a new dawn awaits them in the new homeland.
Another point that I wish to highlight is that regardless of race, religion and ethnicity, we are part of this diverse nation, not as espoused by Arof, “The Chinese and Indians communities in Malaysia do not make up this diverse nation.”
We should strive to live in harmony and chart our history together, one that our younger generation will be proud of.
After all, the sole purpose of history is to lay down a learning foundation for our children so that we can repent for our past mistakes, and strive for the betterment of our nation in the future. TAN, ALI and MUTHU, Penang The STAR Home Opinion Letters 7 Mar 2015