Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan (right) said the Education Ministry needs a formal proposal to 'seriously' consider adding Sybil Kathigasu (left) to their history books.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Education Ministry needs a formal proposal to 'seriously' consider adding Sybil Kathigasu to their history books.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan said this in a text message to the New Straits Times, in response to calls made to include the courageous wartime nurse in the books.

“The idea to include somebody deserving into the historical fold of academia is most welcome and the ministry will surely look into the matter seriously if a proposal is brought forth.

“The Education ministry is always open to ideas and suggestions. (but) There is a process that is in place to allow changes to the textbook that requires the changes to meet certain criteria, and ensure justification and relevancy,” he added.

He also fell silent when asked if the petition currently underway to include Sybil in the history books could be taken as a formal proposal.

Meanwhile, Professor Datuk Dr Teo Kok Seong from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia who led the call in the NST article on Sept 4, said that he would champion the cause by taking on the bureaucratic leg work.

“I’ll put the matter in writing and email and post the Education Minister and his deputies early next week,” he added.

Sybil was held captive and tortured by Japanese soldiers during World War 2 for aiding resistance soldiers who fought against the occupation of Malaya.

Despite being severely beaten and forced to watch her own daughter being strapped by a rope from a tree and having hot coals poured under her, Sybil refused to utter anything about what she knew about the campaign against the Japanese.

Time magazine, in 1948, had also referred to her as the “Edith of Malaya” after Edith Cavell, a British nurse who was executed by a firing squad for aiding the escape of Allied soldiers during World War 1.

Sybil and her husband, Dr Abdon Clement Kathigasu, operated a clinic in the small town of Papan, on the outskirts of Ipoh, Perak, where they covertly supplied medicine, and provided medical services and refuge to resistance fighters for years during World War 2 until their capture in 1943.

The couple also surreptitiously shared information gleaned from BBC broadcasts on banned shortwave radio sets.

Sybil died in London from injuries she sustained during the time of her captivity.

Last year, Google dedicated a doodle to her on her 117th birthday.

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