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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Withdrawal of Interlok Mandatory


We now have access to the Official “Guidelines for the writing of textbooks” issued by the Text book division of the MOE itself, and on this basis there is no question that failure to observe these guidelines will make it mandatory that the work MUST be withdrawn as a textbook.

By Dr Collin Abraham

We are grateful once again for the opportunity to call for the total withdrawal of Interlok for the main objection stated from day one, namely, that the book does not meet the stringent pedagogic requirements for a text book.

Earlier objections were essentially on the grounds of the failure to identify specific theoretical frameworks, validity and reliability of the book material and methodology.

However we now have access to the Official “Guidelines for the writing of textbooks” issued by the Text book division of the MOE itself, and on this basis there is no question that failure to observe these guidelines will make it mandatory that the work MUST be withdrawn as a textbook.

The Chairman of the Panel, appointed to advise on the status of the book, is virtually certain to have pointed out to members that almost ALL the guidelines for a text book WERE NOT OBSERVED in the publication of INTERLOK.

The following criteria from the Guidelines should make this position absolutely clear.

1. Firstly and more specifically “Sensitive Elements and Negative elements” such as stipulated below MUST NOT be included.
“Matters which may be misconstrued, discriminatory, deemed insulting or offensive as pertaining to race, religion, culture, gender age or occupation.”

“Matters pertaining to attitudes, thoughts, and behaviour which are contrary to values in the society”
The book in fact abounds with a multitude of such sensitive and negative elements to the extent that it has been referred to as “a classic work of Malaysian racism”.

2. Other matters that MUST BE observed include the inculcation of “noble values and positive thinking”.
The ethnic and racial stereotyping that runs through the entire work totally negates and ignores this guideline.

3. The factual material must be “accurate in content and be consistent” The facts must be “valid based on ICT methods and must be reliable in theory and practice”.

The work is a fictional and imaginative novel and therefore these dimensions do not apply in the first place.

4. An important dimension repeatedly emphasized the need for critical thinking provisions stated as follows;
This should be “the platform for teaching and learning so as to stimulate and develop pupil’s imagination through thinking strategies and creative thinking”.

The book makes no attempt whatsoever to adhere to this guideline.


It would be tedious to comment on the very many submissions that the book should be retained. There may however be some reservations as to the implications and negative impact of the total withdrawal of this book in the context of national integration.

On the other hand, the government will be judged on the basis of making the final decision enhancing good governance with the important proviso that this unfortunate situation does not happen again.

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