DAP national vice-chairman and MP for Ipoh Barat, M Kulasegaran, today denounced as “grandstanding of the painfully comic sort” the move by MIC's Vell Paari to seek a court declaration banning the Malay novel 'Interlok'.
The novel, part of the literature syllabus for Form 5 students, has become a hot potato with Indian NGOs calling for its withdrawal because of its allegedly defamatory depiction of Hindu culture.
“By the time the legal process winds its way to a decision, this book would have spread its distortions and its fallacies,” he said in remarks to Malaysiakini.
Kulasegaran said he has not read the book as yet for he only just procured his copy, “but from what I have read of some parts, in the commentaries of some journalists, it appears the author's research is shoddy and his conclusions slipshod.”
He said Vell Paari's move to seek a court declaration is “grandstanding of the painfully comic sort because the courts are not the arena for the determination of a book's merits or demerits.”
“The matter of the novel's suitability is for the Education Ministry, academic and literary circles, and a reading public to determine,” opined Kulasegaran (right).
He said Vell Paari's move to seek a court declaration starkly reflects the inability of the MIC to ask for and obtain influence over government matters pertaining to education and culture.
“For Vell Paari (below) now to seek a court declaration on the matter shows that in matters affecting Indian Malaysians, the MIC prefers the stance of posturing rather than that of shaper of opinion within the government,” he commented.
“This episode is testimony of the party's irrelevance and inability to influence government decision-making,” he said.
Against book burning
Kulasegaran said he did not support the burning of the novel by former national laureate Abdullah Hussein as that is “an extreme reaction.”
“I prefer rational discourse to fiery demonstrations of symbolic speech,” he added.
“Though I understand the feelings of the NGOs protesting the apparently fallacious contents of this novel, I do not support intemperate action such as book burning,” he said.
He said book burning had echoes of the stridency that coloured discourse in less technologically driven eras when people had little access to knowledge and were marooned in cultural ghettoes.
“We live in more liberated times though some of us are not that free of manifestly false premises and assumptions,” he remarked.