Thursday, March 17, 2011

Indian members quit 'Interlok' review panel

(Malaysiakini) The controversy over the 'Interlok' rose several notches today when the eight-member independent panel to review and amend the novel saw all its ethnic Indian members pull out this afternoon.

indian plight forum 391106 uthaya shankarFollowing a meeting held at Parliament building with Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin today, all three ethnic Indian panellists declared they were withdrawing from the government-created body.

According to writer Uthaya Shankar SB (right), the decision was taken after it became apparent that the other members of the panel had changed their minds and rejected one-by-one the 100 modifications that had been recommended to render the book appropriate for consumption by Form 5 students.

“We feel we were betrayed,” Uthaya Shankar told Malaysiakini. 

He claims that earlier, all eight panellists had reached a consensus over the matter.

Besides Uthaya, two others who withdrew from the panel are Global Aminuddin Baki Universiti education centre director Prof NS Rajendran and former education ministry officer G Krishnabahawan. 

Earlier today, all eight panel members led by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) ethnic studies institute director Shamsul Amri Baharuddin met Muhyiddin at Parliament to discuss the results of their studies.
'DPM disagreed'
According to Uthaya, everyone at the meeting had unanimously agreed that the word “pariah”, which denotes a lower caste in Tamil society, be removed from the novel. 

However, Muhyiddin was not agreeable about 100 other amendments and requested that it be reduced. 

“Muhyiddin then left the meeting. We continued discussing about the novel for three hours. But all the original amendments were rejected,” said Uthaya in a very dissatisfied tone. 

Among others, Uthaya and two others had wanted a correction to the word “tali (string)” used in the book to described the ceremonial gold necklace used in weddings. The correct word should be “thali”.

“They (other panelist) said this is not sensitive. How would they know? We are Indians. We know what is sensitive and what is not,” said Uthaya, who is a celebrated Malay writer.

He refused to call his action and that of two others a form of protest and instead said that they did what was “appropriate”. 

“We were brought in to represent the Indian community. Without us, I don't know what will happen,” he said when asked if the panel was doomed to failure. 

The panel's meeting after Muhyiddin left was cut short after the trio withdrew.