Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Interlok: ‘Govt chose wrong novel’

A PAS leader questions the government's choice of the novel when there are hundreds of other books available better suited to promote national unity.

KUALA LUMPUR: Kubang Kerian MP Salahuddin Ayub took the Education Ministry to task over the Interlok controversy, claiming that the government has failed to introduce an acceptable literary novel in schools.

Salahuddin also criticised the rationale of setting up an independent panel to amend the novel and getting its author to retract certain words from the book.

“No author will ever agree to amend words in his literary piece,” Salahuddin said.

He questioned the government’s decision to choose Interlok, saying that the selection process started on a wrong footing.

He added that there were hundreds of other novels available which were better suited to promote national unity.

“If national unity was the idea, why was Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka and language experts not consulted before selecting the book (Interlok)?” he asked.

Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin told Parliament that Interlok would be retained in schools but 19 parts considered offensive by the Indian community were either dropped, changed or substituted.

The changes were made following the recommendations by the independent panel set up in January to review the controversial novel.

Among the words substituted were “tuhan” with “dewa” and also the removal of the phrase “orang berkulit hitam” (dark-skinned people).

The remaining 87 parts recommended were not considered offensive by the government.

Unhappy with the statement, DAP’s Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran traded verbal blows with Muhyiddin in Parliament, but the minister defended his decision by saying that even MIC had agreed to the amendments.