The writing of history is never impartial


Kok, Koun Chin A Complete Guide to the History of Southeast Asia since 1500 1992 Oxford University Press Singapore 20. Kok, Koun Chin Malaya and Singapore 1988 Oxford University Press Singapore 21. Langer, William L. (Ed) Encyclopedia of World History 1972 Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston 22. Lee, Kuan Yew The Singapore Story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew 1998 Times Media Singapore 23. National Heritage Board Singapore: Journey into Nationhood 1998 National Heritage Board and Landmark Books Singapore 24. National Museum Singapore Rediscovered 1983 National Museum of Singapore Singapore 25. Pluvier, JM.

‘ Nationalism in the Netherlands Indies’ in Indonesia Politics: A Reader 1987 James Cook University of North Queensland Australia 26. Romein, Jan The Asian Century: A History of Modern Nationalism in Asia 1960 Allen & Unwin Not stated 27. Ryan, NJ The Making of Modern Malaysia and Singapore 1969 Oxford University Press Singapore 28. Sandhu, Kernial Singh and Paul Wheatley (eds. ) Management of Success-The Moulding of Modern Singapore 1989 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies Singapore 29. Tan, Ding Eing A Portrait of Malaysia and Singapore 1975 Oxford University Press Singapore 30. Vella, Walter Francis.

Chaiyo ! King Vajiravudh and the Development of Thai Nationalism 1978 University of Hawaii Press Hawaii 31. Winstedt, RO and RJ Wilkinson A History of Perak 1934 Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society Not stated Style and Arrangement of Contents The writing style of the textbook is straight forward, lively and simple since it is targeted at upper secondary students of 15 years to 17 years of age. Besides providing clear main headings and sub-headings, the author also included old photographs, pictures, maps, time charts, graphs and Internet links. Students would not have much problem understanding it.

In addition, a summary and assessment questions are added to each chapters. The contents of the textbook were divided into five units: Unit 1 Overview of Southeast Asia Chapter 1 Colonial Rule and Its Impact On Southeast Asia Unit 2 The Malay Peninsula & Singapore Under British and Japanese Rule Chapter 2 The Straits Settlements (1826-67) Chapter 3 British Intervention in Malaya: Case Study of Perak(1874) Chapter 4 The British Residential System in Malaya: Case Study of Perak(1874-96) Chapter 5 British Administration in the Malay States (1874-1941) Chapter 6 Impact of British Presence in the Malay States (1874-1941)

Chapter 7 The Defeat of the British in Malaya and Singapore & The Japanese Occupation (1942-45) Chapter 8 The Japanese Occupation of Malaya and Singapore (1942-45) Unit 3 Post-War Nationalism & Constitutional Developments in Malaya Chapter 9 The Malayan Union (1946-48) & the Federation of Malaya (1948-63) Chapter 10 The Emergency in Malaya (1948-60) Chapter 11 Independence of the Federation of Malaya Unit 4 Constitutional Developments in Singapore Leading to Full Self Government Chapter 12 The Communist Insurgency and Constitutional Developments in Singapore (1948-59).

Unit 5 Singapore’s Road to Independence and Nation-Building (1959-1971) Chapter 13 Battle for Merger ; the Formation of Malaysia (1963-65) Chapter 14 Separation of Singapore from Malaysia (1963-65) Chapter 15 Building the Nation of Singapore (1965-71) The contents are largely geared towards the needs of the examination, and the national interests of Singapore. For example, the Maria Hertogh Riots of December 1950 was included in the textbook but not mentioned in ‘A History of South-East Asia’ and ‘In Search of Southeast Asia’. The riots originated from the unfortunate life of a Dutch girl.

She was given into the care of a Malay woman, Che Aminah, by her parents in 1942. Maria was brought up as a Muslim and was renamed Nadra. In 1950, her parents wanted to take her back. The Singapore court awarded her custody to her parents. The press insensitive and sensationalized treatment of the case resulted in Malay-European riots and left 18 people dead and 173 injured. The author commented, ‘The colonial government had failed to understand the religious and racial sensitivities in this case, and the stirring up of emotions by press photographs and articles contributed to the outbreak of the riots……

‘5 Members of different races who had lived or had settled in Malaya and Singapore were given positive and forward-looking coverage in this textbook. The Asian immigrants were not discredited. ‘A History of Southeast Asia’ From the British Historian’s Perspective In the case of ‘A History of Southeast Asia’, the coverage of Singapore was limited. D. G. E. Hall focus was on the pre-colonial and colonial period, the post-colonial period was only developed until 1950, although the fourth edition was published in 1981. Hall tried to defend British colonization and stated benefits it had brought to the region.

He was very detailed on the works done by the British in Malaya and Singapore but his work was also mainly geared towards Burma for which he was an expert. Hall was clearly a racist and felt that governing Malaya was the ‘white man’s burden’. The Malays were portrayed as mentally weak, childlike, inflexible and incapable of managing themselves, while Indian and Chinese were viewed as evil and exploitative. He wrote: Malay individualism, however, was a great obstacle, as also a propensity for plunging into debt for a family celebration such as a wedding……

When after the great slump the government tried to induce the peasant to cultivate more rice by protecting him against the price-fixing methods of the Chinese millers, he was far too dependent upon credit from Indian or Chinese shopkeepers to respond. The danger that he would become a landless farm worker was real. He could not come to terms with the foreign industrial and capitalist system that had taken root in his country. ‘If money comes into Malay’s hands’, wrote C. F. Strickland in reporting on the Malaya co-operative movement in 1928, ‘he spends it, regardless of the time when he will need it urgently. 6 Hall defended colonial.

He asserted that the ‘imperial powers provided a vast amount of capital and technical skills, without which the development of the ‘colonial’ territories to their present economic importance could never take place. ‘7 He also stressed that the colonial government had brought health care services to the region. Even J. W. W. Birch, the British Resident who was stabbed to death in Perak due to his mishandling of Malay affairs, was commended by Hall. He mentioned that Birch could had been more tactful and caution but he was highly spirited about helping the people from sufferings from the traditional debtor-slavery institution.

8 Champion, however, mentioned that Birch was inexperienced in the Malay Peninsula and had no knowledge of the Malay language and traditions. He looked down on the Malays and was arrogant and impatient with the Malay chiefs. He would not had met such a tragedy if he were more reasonable and modest. 9 The contents of ‘In Search of Southeast Asia’, an American effort, were more contemporary but the sections on Malaya and Singapore were generally too brief. However, the author, Roff, was able to put forward valuable insights of events and the course of history.

He pointed out that Malays were not interested in wage labour because of the relative sparseness of Malay population and its attachment to the traditional social order. The British also prevented them from the modern economy and moving up the social strata by encouraging them to take on elementary vernacular education. 10 Conclusion ; Limitations of this Essay All three books presented similar events with different interpretations. The first book presented Malaysia and Singapore history with local perspectives, while the second one was written with the colonizers’ interests in mind.

The third book was even more critical and bold in the writing of events since the author was not from the region and his country did not colonize Malaya and Singapore. Each was written with passion and each has its strengths and weaknesses. Readers of history must be cautious enough to read between the lines, and should read widely to gain a better understanding of the subject area. This is a very short essay hence many areas could not be fully developed. The amount of information collected, particularly on the author of the first book, is inadequate.

Areas that could be further elaborated for a dissertation include:  The Writing of Autonomous History in Southeast Asia; Euro-Centric and Asia-Centric History;  Content Analysis of Bibliography of Southeast Asian History by various authors;  Different interpretations On the Impacts of Colonization;

The Relationship Between the Indigenous People and Migrant Communities; and  World War Two and The Decline of European Presence in Southeast Asia. Bibliography Champion, Marrisa. Odyssey: Perspectives on Southeast Asia – Malaysia & Singapore 1870 -1971. Singapore: SNP Publishing, 2001.

Hall, D. G. E. A History of South-East Asia. Fourth Edition. London: MacMillan, 1981. In Search of Southeast Asia. Revised Edition. Edited by David Joel Steinberg. Honululu: University of Hawaii Press, 1987. 1 Malaya and Singapore sections were written by William R. Roff. 2 As printed on the acknowledgement page, ‘The author and publishers are grateful to the following who have given permission to reproduce the following extracts and adaptations of copyright material’. 3 Information from http://www. snp. com. sg/SNP_S2. htm, last visited on 29 October 2002.

4 CDIS refers to the Curriculum Development Institute of Singapore, Ministry of Education. 5 Champion, Marrison, Perspectives on Southeast Asia-Malaysia & Singapore 1870-1971 ( Singapore:SNP Pan Pacific Publishing, 2001), pp 221-223. 6 Hall, D. G. E. , A History of South-East Asia , Fourth Ed(London : MacMillan, 1981), pp 834-835. 7 Ibid. , p 842. 8 Ibid, p 596. 9 Champion, Odyssey, pp 60-66. 10 Roff, William R. , ‘Malaya”. In In Search of Southeast Asia: A Modern History, Revised Ed. , pp. 332 – 338. Edited by David Joel Steinberg. Honululu: University of Hawaii Press, 1987.