PAGOH, March 31 — Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said today the federal government will not bow to fresh demands from Chinese groups to remove the controversial “Interlok” novel from the school syllabus.
The deputy prime minister said that as far as the government was concerned the issue had been resolved.
He also described groups raising the issue again as irresponsible.
Fresh trouble is brewing over the use of “Interlok” in schools, with Chinese groups yesterday condemning the novel’s depiction of Chinese characters as greedy, opium-smoking lechers keen to exploit Malays for profit.
Having weathered a storm of controversy from the Indian community over the novel’s use of the word “pariah”, the Education Ministry now faces Chinese calls to drop the “racist” book from the Form Five Bahasa Malaysia syllabus.
In a statement yesterday, Chinese associations from across Malaysia said the book was not only offensive to Indians but Chinese as well, as it depicted the character Kim Lock as a “miserly opium addict and callous adulterer” and his son, Cing Huat, as “cunning, greedy, unscrupulous and someone who would happily sell his daughters”.
“‘Interlok’ in its totality propagates the ideology of ketuanan Melayu. In our considered opinion, this novel is not only unhealthy but an insidious poison,” the statement released yesterday said.
But Muhyiddin insisted today that the government would not revisit the matter.
He accused opposition parties of exploiting the issue and being behind yesterday’s statement.
Lawmakers from the Chinese community are split along partisan lines over the call by Chinese associations to drop “Interlok” from schools, with Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in support of the demand and Barisan Nasional (BN) against it.
DAP national vice-chairman Tan Kok Wai said he supported Chinese groups clamouring for “Interlok” to be dropped as it was “not suitable” to teach the controversial novel to impressionable young students.
MCA Youth chief Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong said he did not know why the depiction of the Chinese community in the book was becoming a “big issue” now as it had been highlighted before.
He said the matter should not be blown out of proportion and urged detractors to read the book as a whole and in a rational manner. - The Malaysian Insider