Altering historical facts a crime of knowledge

Sultan Nazrin Shah

IPOH – Altering historical facts is an intellectual crime and a crime of knowledge that denies the right of future generations to obtain real facts, said the Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Shah.

He said that recording, cataloguing and archiving historical material accurately is a duty that must not be compromised.

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“A complete historical record plays an important role in helping the country defend its sovereignty and frontiers,” he said when officiating the Perak National Archives of Malaysia’s new building in Meru, near here today.

Citing an example of the Pulau Sipadan-Ligitan claim in 2002, Sultan Nazrin said Malaysia’s success in winning the case was due to the fact that the country has strong evidence of archival material, while the failure to defend the claim to Pulau Batu Puteh (Pedra Branca) in 2008 was due to lack of archival material as the main source of evidence.

His Majesty said the task of archivists is increasingly complex and challenging to meet the demands of researchers who need information easily, accurately and quickly, especially when documents are now in electronic form, universal records accessible to the international community.

“‘Alhamdulillah’ (All Praise be to Allah), the archivists have proven to be sensitive to the dynamics that are taking place by making a paradigm shift, from academic research driven based on the need to know, to information promotion activities and to facilitate easy access to information to the world community,” he said.

The Sultan said that archives no longer play a passive role in collecting and storing materials, but more of the role of an enabler of access; from record keeper to information provider, as well as to strive to spark interest and public enthusiasm for history.

Therefore, the need for new services should be matched with the new infrastructure as well as the willingness of archivists to explore the new work culture.

“More professional human resources and higher funds are needed to ensure the archives do not end up with a fate similar to a lonely abandoned maritime cemetery, and the archiving profession does not accept the fate of dinosaurs that are extinct due to being abandoned by the rapidly evolving electronic technology.

“The development in the environment should not be viewed as a threat but to be seen as an extension of new opportunities that inject a more dynamic dimension to the archiving profession,” he said.

Sultan Nazrin, in his speech, also praised the level of professionalism of the archivists as well as the quality, reliability and authenticity of the information in the National Archives which helped him tremendously when he was working on his previous two books and is currently in the process of publishing his third.

His Majesty also expressed his appreciation to the federal government for providing the provision to build a modern archive building in Perak and hoped that the National Archives of Malaysia would continue to move forward, on par with international archival institution.

— BERNAMA