Feb 8, 11
Hindu rights activists are planning to hand over a memorandum on the inclusion of controversial novel Interlok into the Malaysian high school curriculum to the United Nations.
The group, led by the Human Rights Party, would hand in the memorandum to the UN office in Damansara this Friday.
According to Human Rights Party advisor N Ganesan (left), the memorandum is specifically about the inclusion of the novel which stereotypes minority Indians in very negative images into the the school curriculum.
“It is also generally about the anachronistic, subtle, pervasive racist system of the Malaysian government – very much like the Apartheid system,” he told Malaysiakini.
“In that memo we plan to elaborate on how this inclusion of Interlok into the school curriculum is not an isolated move on the part of the government but is actually the tip of the iceberg of a system that systematically excludes the minorities of the country – the Indian poor being the most impacted,” he added.
Ganesan said the group was hopeful that by raising the issue with the UN, Malaysia will be called to account by the international community for its blatant racist policies and practices.
He added that the the world needed to know what was really happening in Malaysia.
“In South Africa the Apartheid system was an overt system of control by the minority over the majority. However, in contrast here in Malaysia it is a subtle and I daresay covert system of control by the majority over the minority,” he said.
“It is probably the only country in the world with such an arrangement still. The world needs to know nevertheless,” he added.
The issue first surfaced at the end of last year when Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department T Murugiah registered his protest after his ministry discussed the novel with Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
Several rallies for and against the novel and the Education Ministry move have taken place, with the latest being more than 100 NGOs under the Malay Consultative Council coalition vowing not to support any ethnic Indian leader from any political party in the general elections.
On Jan 27, Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the novel will remain as the textbook for the literature component of the Bahasa Melayu subject for Form Five, but with amendments to those parts deemed offensive by the Indian community.
Solidarity march on Feb 27
However, Hindu activists are still unsatisfied with the remedy and are planning a rally dubbed the ‘People’s March in Solidarity Against Umno’s Racism’ on Feb 27 in Kuala Lumpur.
Ganesan said the plan to hold the march was triggered by the decision by the Malaysian government to include the novel into the curriculum despite loud opposition from the entire Indian community .
He added that the objective of the march is to say in “clear and unequivocal terms that the time has come for the racist regime of Malaysia to be be dismantled”.
“The constant utterances by the muftis, educators at various levels, Perkasa the Umno outsource, mainstream media, by reminders wherever you turn in Malaysia, the reinforced concrete structure of racist control, the constant harassment, the constant threats of prosecution for sedition are all nothing but sheer manifestations of this pervasive system,” he said.
“This system has to be met head-on”.
Ganesan extended an invitation to participate in the march to all political parties, NGOs and civil society organisations who wish to see an end to a racist system.
He also called on PKR and PAS supporters, who recently demonstrated in solidarity with the people of Egypt, to participate in the rally.
Simultaneous demonstrations are also planned in London in Trafalgar Square and in New York, presumably in front of the UN, on the same date, said Ganesan.