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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Interlok rally: Police must respect right to peaceful assembly, says Kula


According to media reports, the Dang Wangi police has rejected the Human Rights Party's (HRP) application for a permit to carry out a peaceful march against the novel Interlok on Sunday.

The party has on Feb 11 submitted the necessary application to the police for a permit. I call on the police to respect the people’s constitutional right to peaceful assembly and approve the application to protest the Interlok novel.

The Interlok issue hurt the Indian community yet the Government has not shown the political will to quickly resolve the issue.

The Education Minister’s announcement on Jan 27 that the novel would remain as the textbook for Form Five, but with amendments to those parts deemed offensive by the Indian community is not an acceptable solution.

It is puzzling how a book that is so controversial and hurtful to the Indian community could not be withdrawn.

Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI) director Lim Teck Ghee has added his voice to calls for the novel Interlok to be removed from the Form Five Malay literature syllabus due to its perpetuation of “offensive stereotyping” of minorities.

The former academician-turned-social activist said some may be tempted to invoke freedom of expression to justify maintaining the book as required reading in secondary schools.

That same “freedom to offend” would not, however, be granted if the offence were against Malays, he noted. It is most unfair that the government has not done what should be done – to withdraw the book as a school text book.

As for me, it will be doubly unfair if people who exercise their constitutional right of peaceful assembly to protest against the novel are denied such rights.


- M Kulasegaran is the DAP MP for Ipoh Barat. Courtesy of Malaysia Chronicle

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