Interlok: ‘Dewan Bahasa rep objected to every amendment’
MIC president G Palanivel tells why the three Indian representatives quit the independent panel to review Interlok.
KUALA LUMPUR: The three Indian representatives of the independent panel to review Interlok quit because because every amendment they proposed was objected by the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka representative, MIC president G Palanivel said today.
“The other panellists agreed to the removal of one sensitive word pertaining to caste. The Indian panellists had brought out many amendments which they had classified as sensitive or hurtful to the Indians,” he said in a statement.
Yesterday, one of the the three Indian panellists, G Krishnabhagwan, an ex-civil servant, also claimed that “Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin wanted us (panellists) to cut back on the amendments at a meeting we had with him in Parliament”. The two other Indians on the eight-member are Global Aminuddin Baki Universiti education centre director Prof NS Rajendran and Kavyan Writers Association chairman Uthaya Sankar SB.
Palanivel also urged the Education Ministry to take a firm stand on the Interlok issue, as it has the potential to become divisive during a time when unity should be a common goal.
“Since we are moving towards the much-touted 1Malaysia concept, it is important that this whole Interlok issue be handled well.”
Palanivel also said that he had been in communication with the Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Muhyiddin regarding the matter.
Meanwhile, opposition MPs, disheartened by this turn of events, laid the blame squarely on Muhyiddin, who is also the education minister, for the fiasco.
“Muhyiddin clearly is not interested in amending Interlok as it will rattle Malay rights group, Perkasa,” said DAP’s Charles Santiago.
“They are promoting racism and Malay supremacy in literature,” added Santiago who is Klang MP.
Perkasa and a host of other Malay NGOs supported moves for the book to be retained as it is.
National Interlok Action Team (NIAT), a coalition of Indian NGOs against the usage of Interlok in schools, said it was disappointed in Muhyiddin for interfering in the issue.
“Who is the education minister to ask the independent panel to review the recommendations?” asked NIAT chairman Thasleeem Mohamad.
“In doing so the panel is no longer independent,” he said.
Thasleeem also revealed that NIAT would continue with its action plan which includes a nationwide hunger strike this month.
Interlok, written by Abdullah Hussain, is being used as a literature component for Bahasa subject for fifth formers in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Selangor and Negri Sembilan.
Several groups have claimed that the novel contains elements racist to the Indian community.
Besides, many NGOs have also found that the book contains a number of historical errors and misrepresentations. - FMT