Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Interlok: a foreigner’s perspective

“Either you allow everybody to insult each other or not at all,” said a German businessman in the aftermath of the attempted rally by the Human Rights Party (HRP) yesterday.
The man, who runs a local business and refused to be named, seemed surprisingly aware of the Interlok issue when asked to comment by Komunitikini.
“The Indians feel insulted because the book refers to them as pariahs. Obviously I can’t read the book, because its in Malay, but I’ve heard about it,” he said.
He believes that the system should be less selective when it comes to dealing with issues of ethnicity.
“Either you let everybody insult each other or you don’t allow anyone to insult each other. You can’t allow it on any one particular race alone,” he said.
He believes the authorities themselves have put the spotlight on Interlok in the way they have handled the issue so far, and in their clampdown on yesterday’s attempted demonstration.
“There were five of us who were at the (KLCC) area, and the police just picked up a couple of them (Indians) and started questioning them,” he said.
“If they let everyone walk by in peace, the matter wouldn’t be so dramatised. As long as the assembly is being made peacefully and without any weapons, there are no reasons for a clamp down,” he added.
He also showed some awareness of Malaysian law.
“Article 10 of the Malaysian Constitution grants the freedom of assembly, subject to them being peaceful,” he added.
His wife, a Malaysian, had even more to say in regards to the Interlok issue.
“It shouldn’t be in the syllabus, because tomorrow you’ll see the kids start using the word pariah on Indian youths. It will only offend people and break healthy relationships,” she said.
“It runs the risk of having Indians being generally termed as pariahs,” she added.
She had earlier had a couple of words for a police officer who had refused to allow the couple into KLCC compound.
“Is this how many police officers guard the streets everyday in Malaysia?” she asked when she was asked to leave.
When the officer promptly answered yes, she said, “That means your country isn’t a safe place to be in.”
She wasn’t however alone in criticising the manner in which the policemen asked questions on the day.

“Are they the only ones with powers in this country?” asked Gurdip Kaur, a wheelchair-bound lady.
She and her group of friends were travelling in their wheelchairs towards KLCC when they were stopped and asked to leave the place.
They had to call for a special van to take them away from the place, and she was seen involved in a heated exchange with a plainclothes officer later