Thursday, March 17, 2011

'Interlok' panel 'withdrawal' now in question

The withdrawal of three members from the government-established panel to review the Interlok novel yesterday is now in question.

According to the panel chief, Prof Shamsul Amri Baharuddin, the panel had already completed its duties on March 4.

“Based on the terms of reference for the independent panel, the panel completed its duties after agreeing to submit its proposals to the (education) minister,” said Shamsul Amri in a text message to Malaysiakini.

The proposals were submitted to Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on March 8, said Shamsul Amri, who is also a Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) lecturer.

Shamsul Amri also clarified that he did not attend the panel's meeting with Muhyiddin in Parliament house yesterday as he is currently overseas.

During the meeting, three representatives of the Indian community withdrew from the eight-member panel.

They claim that the panel had reneged on their earlier consensus to make about 100 amendments to the novel, which is used in secondary school as a Malay literature text.

Critics claim that the novel had portrayed the Indian community in negative light. Some amendments were also proposed concerning the portrayal of the Malay and Chinese communities.

Shamsul Amri refused to comment on the consensus that was arrived at by the panel, but instead said that a copy of the proposals can be obtained from those who had withdrawn from the panel.

“Every panel member has a copy,” he said.