Friday, September 2, 2011

The Politics of History...

Education is politicized in Malaysia. Personally, I feel that subjects like History and Moral are taught on the premise that our kids have no ability to think on their own. So it is with some interest that I followed Mat Sabu's interpretation of the 1950 Bukit Kepong incident. And I find his angle really interesting... The details of Bukit Kepong can easily be googled. So can the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) struggles in Malaya.

Going by simple logic, technically anyone who worked for the government back in 1950 was actually working for the Brits. So if one is anti-colonial, then it's actually quite easy to see that the MCP was actually fighting the penjajah. Communism was much feared here back then (and we're still wary of it today). But it's hard to fault Mat Sabu for his line of thought on plain logic... cos by the 1950s they (the MCP) were fighting against the British; which loosely meant that they actually qualified as freedom fighters trying to free the land from the yoke of the colonialists. The 3 stars on the caps of the MPAJA actually represented the three major races, here. Their fight, while was to perpetuate the communist ideology was no longer for China. Malaya had become their home. China became their support base just as in the US, the United Kingdom and France offered support to the Libyan rebels against Gaddafi and provided a support base for them. Malaya was home to the MCP members just as Libya is the home of the rebels. It's a rather simplistic comparison, I know.

And MCP was not solely a single race party, though there were far fewer Malays or Indians in it. But to agree to Mat Sabu's speech would akin to admitting that there were others who were more willing to fight (and die) to gain freedom from 'oppression'. But that too means that the local leaders of the day had been selling the people short too for their own gains. That could be one way of looking at history. And then if we were to continue and study further, we'd also be reminded that in many instances, the local leaders practically gave their lands and subjected their rakyat to being colonialized while they continued to live rather comfortably, even having a semblance of an authority, in other words puppets of the colonialists. It was only in certain instances when their lives were affected as in the incidents leading to the murder of JWW Birch's that we read of the upper class uprising. Most of the other rebellions were by the minor pembesar.... Tok Gajah, Haji Abdul Rahman Limbung, Dol Said. They died, got expelled, jailed, sentenced to death for fighting their causes.

The thing is... history is supposed to enable us to learn from our mistakes. It is supposed to be a shortcut to helping us avoid the pitfalls of those before us. But history when politicized gives the opposite effect. It causes us to live under an illusion. And those people responsible for the illusion has to maintain it. And every now and then, when someone like Mat Sabu offers us another view of what could be on the outside of the bubble we live in, the creators of the illusion have to work even harder, spinning more stuff to protect that illusion. Never mind that most of us do not subscribe to the Communist ideology.

History as a propaganda.... It does feel so very often. In the politics of history, how can governments resist that opportunity to use it to churn support or build a divide?

Anyway, what Mat Sabu offers here seems like The Pill in The Matrix. Take the pill and you might find yourself awakened. But you might not like what you are awakened to. So perhaps, like many who remained happily suspended and oblivious to the real world, the humans continued to exist in their bubble of happiness in The Matrix. I think there is no harm in looking at Mat Sabu's approach. Instead of clamoring him to take it back or lambasting him for whatever reasons, take a look at it from an intellectual perspective. But of course, it's hard to imagine the cause and effect here... LOL!!!! As for Mat Sabu, it doesn't make him a communist sympathizer by just highlighting this angle. Or it could just be a political gimmick to draw attention.... but it is an interesting angle. If the Communists had won, our history books today would be totally different.

3 comments:

Thomas C B Chua said...

AJ 7, cannot agree more with you. " Opinion is free. Facts are sacred." R.G Collingwood, a renowned historian and philosopher. We had to study his writings in the university.

AJ7 said...

Yup.. Another fact is the MCP member who led the attack was Malay.. again, this should make us wonder too. But this fact is usually not mentioned in official history books. Nor is the fact ever hardly brought up. It's like there is this effort to maintain an illusion of .....

Thomas C B Chua said...

AJ7, you should watch the "Bukit Kepong" movie, main star was Jins Shamsuddin. The commies were all " Ah Peks " who speaks with " Gua Gua lu Lu." Are all Chinese communists? Land yourself at Wanfujin Avenue at Beijin and see. It is like our Bukit Bintang. Wa lau, it is as capitalistic than New York !!! Our ArseNO leaders have not more capital than to use commies' treat. As if communism is cancerous ! Pea brain !!!