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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Enter the History Police

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This is one type of policing that Walski totally didn't expect. With all the excitement about the Sultan of Pandamaran and the more attention-catching goings on, this little bit of news kinda got burried. From The Star, yesterday (November 1, 2006).

Image hosting by PhotobucketNot enough with Culture and Language Policing,
we may soon have our own History Police

Fair enough - there has to be a certain standard set for museums. But what's a little worrying is the last sentence in the opening paragraph - the part about the "standard of history set by the Government" (emphasis by myAsylum). In other words, does this mean only "Government-approved" history? One could almost imagine this reasoning:

"Yeah, Hang Jebat may have existed, but his importance does not fit into our stringent criteria of hiostorical importance, being rebellious against the Sultan and all that."

WTF? Okay, this is bordering histrionics on Walski's part. But what is it about Rais Yatim and the concept of policing anything and everything that can be policed? It's almost as if he's over-compensating the fact that he didn't get to head a real policing ministry (like Internal Security).

As Minister for Culture, Arts and Heritage - or it's Bahasa Malaysia acronym KeKKWa, which already inadvertently hints at being something fascist-like - Rais has already introduced the concept of Culture Policing, and more recently Language Policing.

And now, ladies and getlemen, deep from the labyrinth of the unnecessary, introducing the History Police.
(more hysterical history histrionics in the full post)

Image hosting by PhotobucketActually, this reminds Walski of these other History Police - the ones from a short-lived Cartoon Network series called Time Squad. Although the KeKKWa version won't have time machines of the Time Squad kind, there is a chance that the Malaysian History Police will have time machines of another kind - the rubber stamp and the dreaded pen, to approve or disapprove, or maybe even assist in the re-write of certain historical facts which may be not-so liked by Government. Sounds a little 1984-ish, huh?

Perhaps this History Bill will help pave the way for all kinds of museums imaginable - taking a leaf from what one finds in the UK and most of Europe. That's just hunky dory as as far as Walski's concerned - only if that is the intention.

They say that history is written by the victors, and that real history actually requires seeing events past from varied viewpoints. Taken in isolation, Government-friendly view, or a more antagonistic one, alone, will never paint a fair and accurate picture of our heritage. And the worst thing we can do for our future generations is to try to re-write it, simply for the sake of popular demand, or worse, political expediency.

Another aspect of the upcoming Bill is the fact that, little by little, the Government continues to encroach on every little facet of everyday life, introducing all kinds of bills imaginable. What other Bills can we expect in the near future?

Stay tuned, though. myAsylum will definitely look into these two subjects - what other Bills and what museums we can expect in the near future.

But is there really a dark side to the upcoming Museum Bill? Is this really an effort to make our Musuems world-class, or is it an implicit plot of "ensuring the past to protect our future" (to borrow a line from the cartoon) - not our collective Malaysian future, but the future of the select few?

The silly escapades of Otto, Buck Tuddrussel and Larry 3000, altering the past with no real consequences on other aspects of their future-present that they may have inadvertently changed, is perfectly OK, since it is, after all, just cartoon fiction. But if indeed the idea behind the Museum Bill is something more sinister than meets the eye, the impact on how our future generation sees us here in the present, and our collective past, will clearly be all too real.

Granted, all of this may be hysterical speculation on Walski's part. He hopes that the real purpose is the stated purpose - that it will pave a path towards more world-class museums here in Malaysia. We will just have to wait, for the near future, and see what the Bill actually contains.

Meanwhile, one can only guess what other kinds of policing the minds at KeKKWa will come up with next...