Wednesday February 23, 2011
Council wants ‘Interlok’ novel removed
By M. SHAMINEE
PETALING JAYA: The group representing non-Muslims in the country wants the Government to withdraw the controversial Interlok novel from the Form Five syllabus and replace it with another book that is “free of derogatory words and suggestions”.
The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism made this appeal to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in a statement here yesterday.
Council president Rev Dr Thomas Philips said the removal of the novel would be in line with Najib’s 1Malaysia vision.
“The council believes education is the best tool to help generate the evolution of thoughts to achieve the aspirations and objectives of 1Malaysia.
“However, we are deeply saddened that education is being compromised and used as an insidious attempt to ridicule, insult and belittle non-Muslim citizens in this country,” added Dr Philips.
The council hoped the non-Muslim community in the country would be given the opportunity, friendship, understanding and, most of all, respect for being loyal to this country, he said.
Several groups claim the 1970 novel by national laureate Datuk Abdullah Hussein contains elements deemed offensive to the Indian community.
Others, however, argue that the portrayal of the caste system in the novel reflects the social reality during the period depicted in the novel, and not a form of insult to any community.
Last month, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also Education Minister, said the book would remain as the textbook for the literature component of the Bahasa Malaysia subject for Form Five but with amendments to several aspects deemed sensitive by the Indian community.
An independent panel has since been set up to study the types of amendments. It will submit recommendations to the Government.