I remember the figure of Hang Tuah adorning the entrance to our National Muzeum during my last visit there a couple of years ago. For as long as I can remember, Hang Tuah has been central figure in the history of Malacca. And now, Prof Khoo Kay Kim has come out to say that he is a myth. He and his 4 sidekicks apparently did not exist. And neither did Hang Li Po... the wife of Sultan Mansur Syah; of that famed marriage of the most prosperous Malacca Sultan to the princess from the Chinese Empire which was supposed to have elevated the status of Malacca. I supposed now that the good Prof and his team of learned historians have done their studies, the history of the Peranakan might also be undergoing some changes too, since the descendants of Hang Li Po were supposed to have 'created' the Peranakans.
I supposed then, too since records aren't too clear about Parameswara, could we safely assume that the first ruler of Malacca was a Hindu? Or perhaps too, the stories of early Malacca were folklores? Sometimes one gets the feel that there is too much politics in everything. Politics make things murky. Did Hang Tuah exist? If he did, does it matter if he had been Chinese? Malaysians deserve to know their heritage. Malacca could have been an early model of peaceful racial existence...... one of which we can be proud of. The fact that early stories never mentioned his race... we could learn a few things from there about integration.
So now, would we be told that the colonial historians had something to do with this error of Hang Tuah's existence? Why are we making our kids learn history? Is it to pass exams or to inculcate a certain pride or even to draw lessons from the events of the past? Or is it just to set the young brains onto a certain path? ...brain washing. A new syllabus for history is supposed to be implemented in the next 2 years or so. Will the new syllabus be focussing more on the history of the indigenous people.... the Sengoi, Negritos, Jakun, Orang Asli..... those original settlers on this land? Or will those too continue to be forgotten? Will we be reading about the Penans?
We've seen efforts to wipe out history by changing street names, demolishing old schools for development and thus ensuring their old name dies with that act. We have a university where race plays a pivotal role in entrance. We have a civil service almost devoid of other races at the top level. History is supposed to teach the future generation that man can go very wrong very often.... The atrocities committed by the Ku Klux Klan against the blacks, Adolf Hitler and his Aryan supremacy, the Indian caste system.... yet we seem not to be teaching our young how to be good a good insan in the truest sense. We use race, religion, ideologies to streamline people to achieve our own selfish ambition.
Prof Khoo and Prof Zainal Kling were my former lecturers. Suffice to say, not all academicians are made of the stuff of Aziz Bari. And if one wonders why the Malaysian education system cannot seem to rise to its former glory.... look no further. Instead of challenging the the minds of tomorrow to question and inquire, these (supposedly) learned academicians issue statements like politicians, expecting everyone to accept it unquestioningly... History ought to to be rewritten to correct facts.... not for any other reasons. If it's done with the latter as the main objective, then we will be doomed cos we will never do things right. And that is another lesson from history.