Media Statement by M.Kulasegaran on "Interlok...the way forward" organized by National Interlok Action Team (NIAT) at Somma Hall, Wisma Tun Sambathan, Kuala Lumpur on 12th February 2011
Let me start by asking two simple questions
Firstly, is it not a fact that the Interlok novel contains inaccuracies, distortions and demeaning, derogatory words which have hurt the Indian community?
Secondly, is it not logical and right for the Government to withdraw the book?
These are simple questions which everyone can see. Yet the issue has dragged on simply because the federal government is dragging its feet on the issue.
Let me ask two more questions:-
1. Can such a controversial book be used as a school text book?
2. Can it truly promote better racial understanding and forge unity?
The answers are simple. We don’t need a genius to give the answers. The book is not suitable as a text book and it certainly cannot promote unity. It is in fact against the 1 Malaysia concept.
I must say that those who argue that one must read the book in the right context or as a whole do not understand or have failed to understand why the Indian community is angry with and hurt by the inaccuracies and demeaning words found in the book.
Why can’t we just have a text book that is non controversial and acceptable to all?
Why is it so difficult for the federal government to right an obvious wrong?
I will say firstly that the federal government lacks the political will to resolve the issue and secondly, despite having suffered unprecedented loss of Indian support in the last general election, it is still not sensitive enough to the feelings and demands of the Indian community.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has recently said that the novel Interlok will remain as a literature textbook for Form Five students, but changes will be made to parts deemed sensitive by the Indian community.
He further said an independent panel would be set up to study the types of amendments and submit recommendations to the Government.
“The decision to continue using the novel, with amendments so as not to hurt the feelings of the Indian community, is the best solution,” Muhyiddin said in a statement.
But can Muhyiddin guarantee that all inaccuracies and demeaning words will be deleted / amended to the satisfaction of the Indian community?
I do not think so and I therefore do not agree that what he has announced is the best solution. The best, simple and right solution will be the withdrawal of the book.
The Indian community must be united and send one clear message to the Education Minister—we will not compromise and want the Interlok novel to be withdrawn.
Last year, there was the failed attempt to compulsorily acquire the Indian heritage land in Sitiawan.
Now we have this Interlok issue which again shows that the BN government is not sensitive to the feelings of the Indian community.
If the Interlok issue is not satisfactorily resolved, we must be prepared to make it a major issue in the coming general election.