From Kerajaan (Kingdom) to Kerajaan (Government)

Koh Chien Aun, Sivachandralingam Sundara Raja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch


Although research has been done on Malaysia’s history textbooks, much of it focuses on the Malay/non-Malay dichotomy and the imbalances between the two. And while there is much in agreement of a Malay hegemony in the history narrative, little is said about the Malay thought present within the textbooks as a standalone. This paper aims to cover a portion of this Malay thought, specifically that of the kerajaan narrative through a discourse analysis of the secondary school History textbooks. The analysis shows a largely superficial veneration of the sultans in contrast to the reverence afforded to them within the boundaries of Malayness. Instead, a modern Malay nation-state is emphasised with the kerajaan serving as; 1) a means to validate an already present pre-colonial Malay civilisation; 2) to frame and redefine certain concepts within the confines of the nation-state; and 3) efforts to downplay Western influences within Malaysia, despite the textbooks inability to fully detach from the former. This discourse analysis provides a further nuance to the understanding of our History education and Malay identity, beyond mere dominance of one ethnic narrative over others. By exploring the discourse of the kerajaan present within the textbooks, this paper aims to contribute towards the body of research that explores the continual engagement between Malayness and an ever changing world today.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-102
Number of pages16
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


  • National Curriculum
  • Textbook analysis
  • Identity Politics
  • Malaysia

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