In the rarefied atmosphere of what constitutes public debate in Malaysia, where differentiating fact from fiction is a herculean task, publicly accessible (authentic) source documents are vital.

To this end, the announcement by the Institute of East Asian Studies (IEAS) at the University of Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), that it is making available source documents on the formation of Malaysia, is indeed a step forward to allow for better analysis of a key event in Malaysian and regional history.

According to the announcement:

“..In a joint project with the newly established Pustaka Negeri Sarawak, our researchers have selected and arranged the copying of another 40,000 pages of original documents from private collections, Rhodes House Oxford University and from the UK Public Record Office. These documents are located in the new State Library, and are available to researchers who would otherwise need to spend long periods for documentary research in the UK. UNIMAS is providing a “Digitization, Archival and Recording System” to the IEAS that will facilitate retention and access to a wealth of oral as well as written literature.

These records unveil a great deal of new information for scholars researching the post-war history of Malaysia, and of Sarawak. The IEAS archive is in a CD-Rom package of searchable primary historical sources, digital facsimiles that include the written annotations by senior ministers….”

One hopes that the Malaysian government and its institutions will follow in IEAS wake and make all critical documents and statistics publicly accessible to enable a more informed discussion on issues of vital interest to the nation.