One of ancient Rome's greatest orators and statesmen, Marcus Cicero, described history as 'The witness of the times, the light of truth'. A 19th century Irish historian, JB Bury spoke of 'History is a science , no less and no more'.
History is a record of past happenings and should be as truthful and precise as possible. History teaches us the experience of the past. By acquiring this experience, we hope not to repeat the mistake of the past, so that we can build a better future.
Politicians like to tinker with history and distort it to their advantage. Throughout history, those in power sometimes have changed the official versions of history to either glorify themselves or depict their enemies in a bad light. But time and again, history has proven that truth will always prevail in the end. History is not just a record from official sources; it also includes eyewitnesses' accounts and other written or objective records from other sources.
When I was young, we learned the history of our country, we learned the history of the region and then the whole world. It was a rather balanced type of history. But the history taught in schools nowadays is very much different.
People like Yap Ah Loy are no more given a prominent space in today's school history textbooks. But can this change the truth? No, and there were so many other records that academician and researchers throughout the years have written which confirm Yap's place and contribution as a pioneer Kapitan in the development of Kuala Lumpur.
Hang Tuah, our national hero and icon, used to be given a very prominent space in our school textbooks. However, since somebody has raised the possibility that he could have belonged to another ethnic group, his importance seems to have declined. To me, it really doesn't matter which community he belonged to. His contribution to the Malacca Sultanate is well-documented and cannot be erased.
Recently, another controversy appeared concerning who were the anti-Japanese heroes. History ultimately will tell the truth. Even racist remarks and a stirring up racial sentiments on this issue is not going to change the ultimate truth.
Dear politicians, there is a Chinese proverb which goes like this: 'When tigers die, they leave behind their skin; when man dies, he leaves behind his name'. Those with a conscience will always be remembered by posterity; those who are hypocrites will ultimately be exposed by history. Let posterity be the judge.