KUALA LUMPUR: The Tamil Foundation has given the Education Ministry an ultimatum: withdraw the controversial SPM literature text Interlok or face nationwide street demonstrations.
It also urged Indians who are ministers, deputy ministers, MPs and senators to quit their positions to express their anger.
Addressing a press conference here yesterday, Tamil Foundation president K Uthayasurian complained that the Education Ministry had been unresponsive to calls for the withdrawal of the novel, which is compulsory reading for Malay literature students in Form Five.
Interlok, published in 1971, was written by national laureate Abdullah Hussain. It is about
the daily struggles of the Malays, Chinese and Indians in pre-independence Malaya. Many Indian groups have said they found it offensive because it contains derogatory references to the community.
Uthayasurian said students who read the book would have a negative perception of Indians.
Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin should read it before talking about 1Malaysia, he added. Muhyiddin is also the Education Minister.
A Vaithiyalingam, a former Hindhu Sangam president, also spoke at the press conference. He said the Indian community was disappointed with the Education Ministry for allowing the book to be used.
He noted that it refers to Indians as “black people” and “pariah” and claimed that some passages give the impression that Indians are dirty and make irresponsible husbands.
MIC Youth has also called for the book’s withdrawal. Its leader, T Mohan, said in a press statement that its inclusion in the literature list could be part of a hidden agenda to rewrite Malaysian history.
Mohan also said the book could undo the 1Malaysia campaign.