October 11, 2016
Malaysia: Learn from history instead of denying it
by T K Chua
World renown Penang will become UMNO’s Tanjong and my 200 year old alma mater Penang Free School will be renamed Tanjong Free School–Din Merican
Typical of many Third World nations after they achieve independence, Malaysia made the deliberate move to get rid of the English language, gradually dismantled the colonial (British) system of government and renamed all places associated with their colonial past.
UMNO has done that, too. Hence, Jalan Birch is now Jalan Maharajalela and Jalan Mountbatten is now Jalan Tun Perak as if we did it out of spite or to get even. This morning, I read there are now proposals to change George Town to Tanjong, Butterworth to Bagan and also some of the streets within George Town to names associated with the country’s pre-colonial era.
After more than half a century of independence, I think many are still not free mentally. They are still suffering from either an inferiority complex, defiance, racism, insecurity or parochialism.
From my observation, usually countries that are most vehement in getting rid of any remnants of colonialism are the very ones that have suffered the most in terms of poor governance, bad economic management and lack of sustained and meaningful development.
The UMNO Melayus with oversized hangups
Colonialism took hold because we were weak. If we are not careful, a new form of colonialism will take hold again if we remain weak. What weakened us before is not “George Town” or “Butterworth” but our ill-conceived policies and poor governance.
What is the point of going back to our glorious past when that era was defeated by colonialism? The Chinese are the most “middle-kingdom centric” people of the world and yet today, I do not think they would ever want to go back to an Opium War or their hapless imperial past.
UMNO is Anti-Pendatang
Colonialism, too, is part of Malaysia’s history. There would be no Malaya or Malaysia if the British had not come and colonised this region to begin with. If ever there is anything to learn from colonialism, it would be its positive inputs in education, the administrative system and development. If there are names of places associated with our past, it is because this IS our past. Learn from history, instead of denying its very existence or eliminating it completely. Worse, do not resort to parochialism.
TK Chua is a FMT reader.