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Monday, February 28, 2011

Media barred from second 'Interlok' panel meeting


By Priya Kulasgaran, The Star

PUTRAJAYA: The media has been barred from being present at an independent panel’s second meeting on the controversial novel Interlok, held at the Education Ministry here this morning at 9am.

On arriving at the ministry’s Curriculum Development Division, this reporter was immediately ushered out by ministry staff.

The reason given was that a directive had been issued to bar members of the press from being present at the ministry premises during the meeting.

This is the panel’s second meeting on studying possible amendments to the novel, following its first dialogue on Feb 16.

Written by national laureate Abdullah Hussain in 1971, Interlok was made a compulsory Malay literature text for Form Five students this year.

It was promptly criticised for containing material allegedly offensive to the Indian community. The MIC then demanded that the novel be withdrawn.

On Jan 27, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the novel would remain but a panel would look into possible amendments.

On Sunday, 109 Human Rights Party (HRP) members were arrested for participating in an illegal gathering in the city to protest the novel’s continued use in the syllabus.

Although both panel dialogues were closed-door sessions, members of the press were allowed to wait outside during the previous meeting.

Chaired by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Institute of Ethnic Studies director Prof Shamsul Amri, panelists include Federation of Malay Writers Associations (Gapena) secretary Assoc Prof Datuk Zainal Abidin Borhan, Kavyan Literary Group president and Sinar Harian deputy editor Uthaya Sankar SB, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka director-general Datuk Termuzi Abdul Aziz, Aminuddin Baki Centre for Global Studies director Prof Dr N.S. Rajendran, and Universiti Putra Malaysia lecturer Assoc Prof Dr Lim Swee Tin.

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