On page 202 in the unabridged version of Interlok, there is the scene showing Kim Lock (father to the main Chinese character Cing Huat) “mengadakan hubungan jenis” with his mistress Mei Hua, a prostitute, after both get high on opium — as is the custom of their loveless sexual union.
Cing Huat’s wife later finds Mei Hua’s body hanging from the jamban (outhouse toilet): …
“Dan, alangkah terperanjatnya lagi demi dia melihat orang tergantung dalamnya dengan lidah terjelir keluar”
and needless to say, the shocked woman starts screaming hysterically at the gruesome sight. Mei Hua’s suicide is described on page 218.
On pages 337-8, there is the scene of the bad guy Suppiah raping Malini, wife of the main Indian character Maniam. She struggles, her sari is torn. Her coli is torn. His hands grope her breasts.
Our translation: “By then, Malini could not resist any longer. It has been three years since Maniam (her husband) left her. She was still young and when the secret places were aroused, she no longer possessed the willpower to fight (her body’s urges) anymore. She knew it was wrong, but how could she summon the strength to fight. Suppiah’s solid body was not only a weapon to defeat her resistance but also the tool to weaken her will.”
Malini hangs herself from a belimbing tree in shame when she becomes pregnant as a result of the rape.
In the student edition, Malini dies in bed from fever.
There are several editions of Interlok. The student edition was first printed in 2010 and copyrighted to Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
Earlier editions in 1971, 1973 and a reprint in 1996 (the year Abdullah Hussain got his Tokoh Sastera award) are copyrighted to the author.
On pages 457-8, a lecherous old communist guerrilla Teck Hock attempts to rape P0h Eng, Cing Huat’s daughter. It’s described how he pins her down and embraces her.
“Teck Hock was on top of her body.”
“Are you mad? screamed Poh Eng. “Gua anggap lu seperti gua punya bapa.”
“I’m not your father,” he replied. “I’m just an ordinary man …”.
Both rape scenes have been taken out from the student edition.
Is this sick book suitable for school?
There are many unappropriate elements in the book, so much so that the original had to be filtered (edited by Ruziati binti Abdul Rani and Baharin bin Ayob) and condensed to something like a hundred pages shorter for student reading.
If the censors had done such a thorough job of removing the paragraphs depicting sex, suicide and the violence, why did they leave the racist bits intact?!
Is a novel that has to be tampered with so much really a piece of outstanding literature for 16-year-olds to study for a major exam?
So much for Gapena’s (Malay writers association) posturing that not a single word in the novel can be allowed to be changed despite complaints by the Indians.
Hullo, the 503-page original book has already been truncated to 418 pages for its student edition.
The fact that the Interlok was butchered in length goes to show that Gapena — defending the book’s “freedom of expression” and insisting it can’t be touched — are nothing more than spindoctors.
There is a prawn behind the rock (udang sebalik batu) for this book’s selection as compulsory study.