Thursday, February 17, 2011

No let-up in Interlok protests

HRP will continue to pile the pressure on the BN government until the controversial book is withdrawn from the education system.

IPOH: The Human Rights Party Malaysia (HRP) is not letting up the political pressure on the Barisan Nasional (BN) government to remove the controversial Form Five Malay literature book “Interlok” from the education system.

It has drawn up programmes to continue with its people’s power protests to demonstrate to the government that the Indian community is dead set against the book.

Certain portions of the book were deemed to have offended the sentiments of the Indian community with their alleged racist attack.

Although Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had responded to the vocal protest of the community by removing the offending sections, he stopped short of removing the book from the education system.

Even though MIC seems to support Muhyiddin’s move, the Indian community, NGOs and HRP were not prepared to compromise.

On Feb 13, HRP ignited the first spark of protest by organising a nationwide march – in the form of car convoys – against the novel.

The convoys started in various states, with each convoy ending in another destination in the respective states.

The peaceful protest ended with the arrest of some 75 activists in the various states, some of whom were later released.

The next anti-Interlok move is fixed for Feb 19 when HRP pro-tem secretary-general P Uthayakumar and its pro-tem chief W Sambulingam are set to address the Indian residents of Buntong, Perak, which has the highest number of Indian voters in the country.

This “Haramkan Interlok” function is to be held at Dewan Arioli Manram at 7pm and a huge Indian crowd is expected to turn up.

Biggest rally

The final and biggest rally called “People’s march for solidarity against Umno/BN racism” is slated to take place at the KLCC on Feb 27.

This event is expected to attract a mammoth gathering similar to the Nov 27, 2007 Hindraf protest which changed the political landscape of the country.

Ironically, Interlok, written by national laureate Abdullah Hussain in 1971, was to promote better racial understanding.

But it backfired as the Indian community took offence to the word “pariah” used to describe them and other alleged factual errors about their way of life.

According to HRP Perak chief P Ramesh, there are three different types of Form Five Malay literature books, of which one will be chosen by each of the three zones – northern, central and southern.

The northern zone, comprising the states in the north, is using the “Kembara Amira” Malay literature book. The central zone, comprising Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Selangor and Negri Sembilan, is using Interlok.

Ramesh, however, cannot remember the title of the Malay literature book used in Form Five for the southern region.

He contended that since Interlok was not used nationwide but only in a limited area, it would be easy to remove it completely from the education system.

“Why can’t the schools in the central zone use one of the other two titles for Malay literature instead of this controversial book?” he asked.

He said it was not practical to remove the offending portions of the book as this would disrupt the the smooth flow of the story. Thus, the best alternative is to withdraw it.

Meanwhile, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said in a press statement the BN government should not press any charges against the HRP and Hindraf protesters who took part in the convoy protest.