Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hindraf to rally nationwide against racism

KOTA KINABALU: Hindraf Makkal Sakthi is planning a series of demonstrations against racism after its Feb 27 rally at the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) against Interlok, the controversial novel that Form Five students use as a literature text.

Hindraf not only wants Interlok out of the schools, but also seeks to put related issues under public scrutiny, according to its chairman, P Waythamoorthy, who spoke to FMT last night from London, where he has political asylum.

The demonstrations would be held all over the country, he said.

“The series of rallies will be to educate the people against racism and racial polarisation, besides saying no to Interlok even in an amended form,” he added.

“We must not glorify anti-1Malaysia writers with the Interlok mindset.”

Waytha was elaborating on a statement released yesterday by Hindraf national coordinator W Sambulingam, who announced the Feb 27 rally.

Sambulingam lamented that Interlok, written by national laureate Abdullah Hussain, remained compulsory reading for Form 5 students despite attempts by the Indian community to have it dropped.

Several groups take offence at the novel’s alleged stereotyped and misleading portrayal of Malaysian Indians. The government recently said it would order amendments to the student edition.

Waythamoorthy said he doubted that the author would agree to his work being amended. “Any novelist worth his salt will demand that his novel be used in its entirety or not used at all,” he said.

He cautioned against caving in to closet racists. “Today, the focus is on a novel for Form 5. If we don’t put a stop to it, they will introduce similar trash in Form 3 and at the Year 6 level,” he said.

Strong attack

Waythamoorthy also disclosed that the Feb 27 rally had forced the Jan 23 Kuala Lumpur Gathering of the Marginalised and Minorities to delay the submission of their resolutions to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. The new date will be between the Feb 27 rally and the second rally, which is yet to be scheduled.

Sambulingam’s statement contained a strong attack against Umno. He accused it of racism, political hegemony and promoting an “artificial” Malay supremacy agenda.

“At a time when the world is moving away from racism in all forms, Umno and its allies are further encouraging racism,” he said. “Other countries are meanwhile engaged in nation-building.”

The statement dismissed Indians linked with Umno as “mandores” who helped to promote caste epithets, ethnic slurs, racial prejudices and communal stereotyping in the minds of the young.

“Interlok is nothing but an engineered plan by Umno to further plant the seeds of racism and segregation in schools and in the minds of the youths,” he said. “This is similar to the programme run by the Biro Tata Negara.”

The statement claimed that tolerance and co-existence had been abused and misused in Malaysia and patience taken for granted.

“It’s time to take the bull by the horns on racism in order to build national affinity and a shared destiny,” it said.