Here In My Home - Malaysian Artistes For Unity

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Denying History At Your Peril

Well in my regular forum there was a thread on how some of the younger generations are being quietly brainwashed into believing that certain historic incidents are just plain government propaganda, feeding into the supposedly anti-government feelings that is supposed to be a groundswell amongst them. Amongst the claims are that our own Alamo incident in Bukit Kepong was a staged event, supposedly to rectify the reputation of the "corrupt" police force that was coercing the village people. This is by giving the police force a heroic halo effect when they bravely fought against the communist bandits till the bitter end, while these bandits were actually supposedly fighting with the villagers in a Robin Hoodisque way. Another as researched by my friend Alphawolf and mentioned in his blog was by somebody who claimed that the communists of PKM are not really communists but independence fighters who were given bad press by the government propagandist for their own vile means. This from somebody who does not know that the PKM abbreviation stands for "Parti Komunis Malaya" or Communist Party of Malaya in Englih and cannot even get the label given to these bandits of "Bintang Tiga" right and keeps calling them "Bintang Lima" in his posting. The consistent thread between these claims are that they heard it from an uncle or their grandfather, as usual unidentifiable aka hearsay, and that the events are actually the government whitewashing opposition against them. What is the difference between these hearsay and those that say the Memali Incident was a holy war, the May 13 Racial Riots and subsequent declaration of Emergency was opportunistic oppression of civilian rule by the government and the liberalist claims that the PKM are independence fighters against the British?

But have anybody given thought that for each peaceful end of each incident; yes peaceful where even in the Memali case most of the villagers of Memali was later freed even though they had declared an act of war against the government, the peaceful turnover of martial power to a civilian government at the end of 1969 Martial Law and the end of communist insurgency that led to the development of previously dangerous military into naturalist tourist playgrounds like Belum and Gua Tempurung; was done by the government with minimum disruption to the general populace. Think about it! Have we ever had a Rwandan, Zimbabwe, Tibet, Yangon, Iraqi and whatever incident where our armed forces shot real bullets against the general civilian populace and a majority of the population who had carried out ethnic cleansing or displacement? And yet some even claim that the Chinese Resettlement policy during the Emergency was a ghettoising or internment of the ethnic Chinese into concentration camps when these people are now getting land grants to the encampments that they have developed into prosperous settlements. And they dare equate teargas shots and water bombing actions taken by the authorities to disperse their civil disorder actions as oppressive acts, as if they have taken a rubber or even a live bullet in their guts.

This is what happens when our own National Archives act more like a Fort Knox of our history than a Smithsonian Institute, unable to shed light on both the bad and good events that has led to our peaceful existence today. The peacefulness and prosperity we now enjoy has led us to be complacent. Only those who wants to be enlightened will seek out the truth, while those who are blinded by their own pet chauvinism will hear the hearsay or revisionist history and take it as the truth. What has become important is not the truth, but the perception that is taken as the truth. More so when the direct participants are now mostly at the end of their life journey and will no longer be with us to verify the truth. That many of them has already passed on without any written memoirs except sporadic articles like the story of the pictured Panglima Salleh of Batu Pahat or the real Sarjan Hassan speaks of the wastage and lost of the collective memory of our history. So is it any wonder that our history can be easily forgotten or revised. As I have mentioned and quoted upon elsewhere, when we have not experienced the period, it would be easy to fundamentally change the basis of the event, especially to suit our own requirements. Do we need a repeat of history to only realise that we have forgotten the idiom that those who forget their history are thus condemned to repeat it. Thus my message is simple and to ad lib herewith, "The Truth is out there, Seek and Verify!"

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