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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Book calling Indians "pariah": MIC not doing anything, says group

Aggrieved with government persistence in not removing the novel Interlokfrom the Form 5 literature curriculum, an Indian organisation has threatened to scuttle Barisan Nasional' s plans for the Tenang polls.

Their main grouse against the book written by national laureate Abdullah Hussein is what they perceive as the incorrect depiction of as the Indian community, especially where the caste system is concerned and the use of the word pariah.

So to vent their feelings, their plans include launching a protest in Putrajaya and in Johor Bahru as well as fielding an independent candidate for the Tenang by-election scheduled for next month.

In delivering the ultimatum, the Federation of Malaysian Indian Organisations' former president and current information chief AP Raja Retinam said the book is against the spirit of 1Malaysia, and should be removed from the shelves.

"The government and the Education Ministry seem to be steadfast in maintaining the book as part of the literature textbook for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia. We are upset as the book provides an incorrect depiction of the Indian community, especially on the caste system and the pariah word being used.

Issue to be raised in cabinet

"We have brought the matter up with the MIC where (human resource) minister S Subramaniam promised to raise the issue in the Cabinet. "However, if the cabinet and Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin are firm in not reviewing the Interlok book issue we will take to the streets next month.

"We will put an independent candidate in Tenang," he said.

NONERetinam, along with the federation's newly elected president Dr V Suppiah (left and right in photo) came to the Malaysiakinioffice yesterday to voice the Indian community's displeasure over use of the text book.

Suppiah said such depiction in the book on the Indian community is irrelevant and the BN should not be so arrogant as to shut out Indian voices.

He then provided the rise of Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) as a reminder on how it had affected the BN's March 8, 2008 performance, warning that a repeat performance was a distinct possibility.

"The federation has about 300,000 to 400,000 members and it is not impossible for us to gather thousands to protest at the Education Ministry in Putrajaya next month," he said.

Adding that if the BN thought that the Indian community's support was flowing back to them, they had better think again.

Yesterday, it was reported that Subramaniam had sought changes to the Interlok book which he described is sensitive to Indians, and will not meet its objective of bringing the Malays, Chinese and Indians together.

Candidate identified

Retinam said although the federation is non political, they would not mind protesting and disrupting BN efforts in Tenang if their demands are not met.

"We will also demonstrate in Johor before the Tenang by-election. We have already identified two businesspersons from the Indian community one a local in Tenang and another from Klang. Both of them are entrepreneurs, who are willing to contest. We will select one of them," he said.

He also reminded the government of the 12 percent Indian electorate in the Tenang constituency whose votes the federation could split by putting up a candidate.

Retinam added that the winner did not matter, only upsetting the BN's strategy.

Interlok is themed after integration where the main players a Malay, a Chinese and an Indian face various obstacles in Malaya stretching from the time of the Japanese occupation, communist insurgency to independence.

- Malaysiakini

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