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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chinese trying luck over ‘Interlok’, says Pena


March 31, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — The National Writers Association (Pena) today accused a group of Chinese associations of “trying their luck” and “testing” Putrajaya by demanding for the controversial “Interlok” novel be pulled from the Form Five Malay literature syllabus.

Pena deputy president Amiruddin Md Ali Hanafiah said that the demand was a move to politicise the novel again after the government had agreed to amend the book and remove the term “pariah” as demanded by the Indian community.

“It has become a political issue. After MIC was successful, now they (the Chinese groups) feel the need to act and guess at the government’s response. This is a political game that if allowed to continue, will damage the freedom to write,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

Yesterday, a group of Chinese associations said national laureate Datuk Abdullah Hussain’s book was racist as the Chinese characters in the work were depicted as greedy, addicted to opium and womanisers.

They demanded that the book not only be edited but dropped completely from the syllabus.

Amiruddin said he was disappointed with the new call for the novel to be dropped, saying it did not insult any race and was written to depict events prior to the nation’s independence.

“It gives a picture of the reality of the time. I am disappointed as the novel does not disturb racial integration,” he said.

He added that Pena’s stand was that the book written in 1971 did not need to be amended.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had said last week that Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) had been directed to edit the book and the education ministry would append a glossary of terms to the book to explain phrases and concepts to students,

The Federation of Malaysia National Writers Associations (Gapena) secretary Zainal Abidin Borhan also said that the demand by the Chinese groups was too late as the government had already made its decision on the matter.

“The matter has been settled. If raised again, it will cause racial tension. They don’t see it as a creative work. If we have a broad view, it is easier to understand it this way,” he said. - Malaysian Insider

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