Tuan Ibrahim (right) was giving his take on the media frenzy which followed PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu’s remarks on the 1950 Bukit Kepong incident, in which a colonial-era police stations was attacked by anti-British guerilla fighter, Mat Indera.
UMNO-controlled media had immediately launched an intense propaganda war, branding Mat Sabu a communist sympathiser. However, Mat Sabu clarified that he had never mentioned even the word communists, as it was UMNO's version of history which had lumped Mat Indera as communists to please British masters of that time.
Tuan Ibrahim concurred with the adage that historical texts had always been biased to the victors. Such a situation is made worse by the fact that challenging such long-established distortions confounded had been risky.
"However, there were those who dared to write. Still, their texts would be obliterated by the victors in the hope that future generation would idolise them and be reminded of their good deeds, all to serve their own interests,” explained Tuan Ibrahim.
Anwar in future
Taking a cue from the latest controversy, Tuan Ibrahim further asked whether the nation's contemporary history would also suffer a similar fate.
Citing the example of Anwar Ibrahim and the political issues centred around him, Tuan Ibrahim has little confidence that it would not be distorted, because "there is the interest of the ruling party to indoctrinate the mind of the next generation".
"If the history of Anwar Ibrahim’s leadership is to be discussed in the future, in which version will it be recorded?" asked the Pahang PAS commissioner.
He said even at present, Anwar's past position as UMNO's second most powerful leader as well as the deputy prime minister had been eclipsed by government propaganda painting him as traitor, among other labels.
“Where are the records about his contribution to the country’s development, or his contribution in UMNO? Will the history of the BN government retain these, or will these be erased?
"Or will the portrait of this former deputy to Dr Mahathir Mohamad simply disappear from UMNO's chart of past leadership?" asked Tuan Ibrahim.
Similarly, he said there had already been attempts to remove the historical fact that PAS president Tuan Guru Abdul Hadi Awang had once served as Menteri Besar in Terengganu.
“Such is the reality in this game of writing history," he added.
According to Tuan Ibrahim, such a distorted rendition of history led to freedom fighters such as Mat Kilau, Tok Gajah, Datok Bahaman, Abdul Rahman Limbong, Tok Janggut, Datok Maharajalela, Si Puntong and Dol Said, among many other names, to be simply ommitted in history books.
On the other hand, those who preferred to cooperate with the British colonialists were hailed as heroes in the struggle for independence.
While he did not deny that those Malay leaders who were recognised by the British had also made significant contribution, Tuan Ibrahim said it was important not to sideline the people whom the British had branded as 'terrorists'.
He urged the government not to condemn those who called for a reinterpretation of the nation's history, saying it marked the maturity of Malaysians.
He said historical facts were to be read and evaluated, not to be used to pass down judgements.
When historical facts cannot be argued, cannot be challenged and cannot be discussed academically, said Tuan Ibrahim, it would be rendered useless and stagnant.