: The role of unsung heroes in the Malaysian political history, especially the non-Malays, should be written and documented for the benefit of the future generation.
This will enable them to have a better understanding of the nation’s history.
University Malaya history lecturer Prof Datuk Dr Zulkarnain Abdul Rahman said there are not many written works published on non-Malay political leaders, who had played an equal role with Malay political leaders in nation-building.
Dr Zulkarnain, who is the co-writer of a biography on E.E.C Thuraisingham or Datuk Sir Ernest Emmanuel Clough Thuraisingham who was a a member of the Federal Legislative Council formed in 1948.
"I humbly hope this book would encourage more writings about our past leaders,” Dr Zulkarnain said.
Dr Zulkarnain co-wrote the book, titled "E.E.C Thuraisingham: A Malaysian Patriot" with his two colleagues, Prof Dr Joseph M. Fernando and Prof Dr Abdullah Zakaria Ghazali.
The trio took seven years to complete the 85-paged biography which required them to go through thousands of records at the National Archives in London, the National Archives in Kuala Lumpur as well as newspaper clippings.
The preface of the book catchily mentioned that history documentation, more often than not, focuses on top leaders but those who quietly supported and played subordinate roles in the nation building process, do not receive adequate attention in the national narratives.
Dr Fernando, in explaining the trials and tribulations that the writers had to go through when writing about Thuraisingham, said not much is mentioned about Thuraisingam in our history books.
“There is only probably one or two chapters mentioned about him in history when he had contributed enormously to nation building during a formative period of the country's history,” he said.
The book, which was launched on Wednesday by his son, K.B Thuraisingham, also gives an insight to readers on Thuraisingham’s personal life.
"My father, who was the first Member of Education, believed that there shouldn't be vernacular schools. Instead, he believed that there should be comprehensive schools, where students from all races work, interact and study in one language.
“He said only then, we will have a truly united Malaysia," said the lawyer, who currently resides in Cambodia.
Thuraisingham was elected to the legislative council in 1951, serving as a Member of Education, which is equivalent to a modern cabinet minister.
Thuraisingham was later appointed as the chairman of the influential Communities Liaison Committee, which was formed to address the outstanding inter-communal issues and problems in Malaya during the British rule.
As a close confidante of the then Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Onn Jaafar, Thuraisingham played a leading role with Onn in the formation of the Independence of Malaya Party in 1951.
Together, they sought to instill a non-communal approach in Malayan politics.
In the post-independence period, Thuraisingham served as a Senator. He passed away in March 1979.