Ethnic body pans textbooks with erroneous info on Sabah

A page of the Year One textbook showing inaccurate information on the Sumazau dance.

KOTA KINABALU: A group of indigenous ethnic communities in Sabah has urged the education ministry to investigate misleading information about the state in some books and references available in the market.

The Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association (KDCA) said it was both frustrating and saddening that after more than 50 years, authors were still unable to differentiate between Sabah and Sarawak, or the customs in the Bornean states.

Kiulu KDCA coordinating chairman Joniston Bangkuai cited a Year One book and a Form Two English book which recently set social media abuzz with its erroneous information about Sumazau, a traditional Kadazandusun dance, and Kinabalu Park.

In the Year One book, he said, a photo showing a group of dancers performing Sumazau had been incorrectly captioned.

According to the author, the dance is performed after harvesting padi and on Saturdays. But Bangkuai said it was not confined to harvest time alone, and certainly not performed only on Saturdays.

The Form Two English book, meanwhile, states that Kinabalu Park and Mount Kinabalu are both situated in Kota Kinabalu, and that orangutans are common within the park.

Bangkuai said Kota Kinabalu is more than 100km away from both places, and that there are no orangutans in the park.

The Form Two English book stating that Kinabalu Park is located in Kota Kinabalu.

Asking how such misinformation had found its way into textbooks and reference books, he said it showed a lack of seriousness in ensuring facts.

“I would like to know who these authors are, and who gave them this information,” he said.

“I cannot understand why, after so many years, some people who call themselves academics still get their facts about Sumazau wrong.

“Sumazau isn’t new. People know of it, and a lot of information is freely available.”

He urged authors to contact the relevant associations or ministries to ensure factual accuracy whenever writing about issues related to Sabah and Sarawak.

“The blunder on Kinabalu Park could have been avoided if they had just called and asked the tourism ministry here,” he said.

Assistant Education and Innovation Minister Jenifer Lasimbang said the matter came under the purview of the federal education ministry.

She added, however, that Sabah was partly responsible for the lack of published material which could be used as reference for these issues.