Media Statement by Pakatan Rakyat on 2.9.2011

Winston Churchill once said that “history is written by the victors”. In the case of Malaysia, it is not just history but also contemporary news that is written and orchestrated by those in power.

In the last few days, the BN-owned media have been going to town in a perverted attempt to vilify PAS Deputy President Hj Mat Sabu as a communist-sympathiser. They have also falsely accused him of glorifying the communist aggressors in the Bukit Kepong tragedy as heroes for attacking the police.

Both claims are categorically untrue. We believe that Saudara Mat Sabu has made no remarks to that effect, and strongly condemn the irresponsible spin-mongering being perpetrated by UMNO leaders and the media.

First of all, Mat Sabu had at no time mentioned anything about communists or the MCP. Secondly, his attempt to highlight the need to appreciate historical plurality has been grossly twisted and taken out of context.

We hereby firmly attest that we do not question Mat Sabu’s motivations in attempting to raise legitimate doubts about the historical narrative of our country. However, we do seriously question the reckless and insidious reporting of Utusan Malaysia, which has time and again resorted to fabricating fictitious arguments with malicious intent.

We also question the historical narrative as provided by the ‘victors’, which in this case refers to the UMNO-BN government and its propaganda machinery. In this, we severely criticise the systematic and decades-long effort to ‘sanitise’ Malaysian history, so that only the contributions of those from UMNO and its cohorts are recognised, while the legitimate contributions of other Malaysian nationalists and freedom fighters are conveniently erased.

What has happened to names like Dr Burhanuddin al-Helmy, Ahmad Boestamam, Ishak Haji Mohamed otherwise known as Pak Sako, and many others? What about organisations and movements such as Kesatuan Melayu Muda (KMM) and the Parti Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya (PKMM)? They were effectively the pioneers of organised Malay political activism. And then we have the groundbreaking “People’s Constitution”, crafted 10 years before Merdeka was achieved in 1957 by the All-Malaya Council of Joint Action (AMCJA) and Pusat Tenaga Rakyat (PUTERA). The PUTERA-AMCJA effort was not only momentous in scope and effort, but more importantly our country’s first truly multiracial coalition.

It is crucial to note that the struggle for independence was not a singular effort by the Alliance. It was a struggle that took place on many different frontiers, spearheaded by many different personalities and through many different means. Surely the sacrifices undertaken by anti-Colonial champions such as Tok Janggut, Abdul Rahman Limbong, Tak Ku Paloh and others should also be accorded its fair share of space?

However, UMNO leaders will have no part of such a colourful past. History according to UMNO is a monochrome version that offers no room for dissenting views.

The fact is that if we were to trace the history of Malaysia through personalities such as Dr Burhanuddin, Boestamam, Pak Sako and others, we will find a story of social activism, avid nationalism, anti-Colonialism and later institutional fear and persecution along McCarthyistic lines that saw them and many others arbitrarily arrested and detained under the draconian ISA by the Alliance/Barisan Nasional Government on trumped up charges of, amongst others, communist complicity.

Our history textbooks are not only missing a chapter or two, but an entire parallel history that has now been successfully erased from official memory.

Obviously, it is in UMNO’s interest to maintain their version of history not only because it upholds their leaders and hence their claim to power, but also because it conceals their chicanery and Machiavellian machinations in their bid to suppress adversaries and legitimate dissent over five decades of authoritarian rule.

We conclude by stating again that Mat Sabu was not wrong in attempting to contest existing perceptions of history. What is wrong is the fact that Malaysians have been manipulated for years by the propaganda machinery of the UMNO-BN Government.

Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, PAS
Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, KEADILAN
Liew Chin Tong, DAP

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