April 25, 2015
‘Ignorance of world history breeds extremism’, says G-25 Member
by Koh Jun Lin@www.malaysiakini.com
He said while many youths have been indoctrinated to believe that divine law and an Islamic caliphate would be better for Malaysia than a secular system, history has proven this to be wrong. However, he said he has heard numerous complaints that history textbooks are overly nationalistic and Islamic, and this exaggerates the focus on small events at the expense of larger changes that had shaped the world.
Sheriff stressed there is nothing wrong in highlighting the contributions that Christians and Jews had made to the world, and that these contributions are not brought forth through superior intellect, but superior institutions that allow inventors and thinkers the freedom to innovate.
“If the young are taught the true history of the world, they would think twice before rejecting parliamentary rule and democracy as an old relic of the European people. They will begin to understand that with democracy and the power of the people, nations can improve themselves better than in the caliphates and theocracies,” he said.
He therefore urged educators to seriously reconsider the contents of the country’s history textbooks.
Stagnant when religious orthodoxy ruled
Sheriff pointed out that when religious orthodoxy dominated Europe some 600 years ago, Christian countries were socially, culturally, and economically stagnant until the Reformation movement and the Renaissance, which relegated religion to a lesser role in state affairs.
In addition, monarchs of the period had to rule with the Parliament’s approval instead of ruling by divine right, he said at a forum ‘Upholding the Principles of the Federal Constitution’ today.
The talk was organised by the group Peace, Conscience and Reason (Pcore) and was held at the Royal Selangor Club this morning. Sheriff is a member of the group of retired senior civil servants, also referred to as G25, who wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for respect for the Federal Constitution, and raised their concern for creeping Islamisation and desecularisation amidst an increasingly polarised society.
He said democracies are able to withstand the test of time because they have the flexibility to carry out reforms to improve the system, and leaders incapable of ensuring the security and welfare would be replaced.
“This transformation of Europe from religious feudalism to parliamentary rule was what made the Christian world progress much faster than the Muslim world in all areas of human endeavour. With their superiority in the arts and sciences, they ruled the seas and became superpowers conquering half the world and throwing out the Ottoman Empire from their colonies in the Arab lands and in Eastern Europe,” Sheriff said.