Thursday, April 7, 2011

DAP will continue to pursue the Interlok issue and even make it a major issue in the next general election.

Speech by M Kula Segaran, DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Ipoh Barat at ceramah held at Senawang, Negeri Sembilan on Wednesday, 6 th April, 2011.

On 31st March, 2011, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said that the government would not bow to pressure over the Interlok novel as the issue had been resolved and the final decision already made.

Muhyiddin said the opposition purposely did not want the issue to end, but to create anti-government feelings. He also said government, however, will not compromise as this involves national security.

How could demand for a novel that is totally unsuitable to be used as a school text involve or threaten national security?

This is a ridiculous and unacceptable statement from the Education Minister.

It is obvious that the BN government is now trying to resort to its favorite tactic after failing to listen to the legitimate grievances of the people – using the fear tactic.

I wish to remind Muhyiddin that Interlok is not a racial or political issue, neither is it a security issue.

There is no necessity for him to try to distort the issue or intimidate the people.

In any case, his attempt to intimidate will fail.

Instead of making unjustified, baseless statement and accusing others of having ulterior motives, Muhyiddin should remember the Prime Minister’s declaration that “the era that the government knows best is over”.

The declaration rings hollow and is meaningless if the government is not willing to listen to legitimate and rational grievances of the people.

I wish to challenge Muhyiddin to answer 3 basic questions:-

1. Can such a controversial book be used as a school text book?

2. Can the book truly promote better racial understanding and forge unity?

3. Is it not justified for the Indian community to demand the withdrawal of the book as a textbook for SPM students?

In fact, on 30th March, 2011, Chinese associations from across Malaysia in a statement issued said the Interlok 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 said.

The statement added, “In fact, ‘Interlok’ is barely a step away from the Biro Tata Negara (BTN) brainwashing that promotes racism and disunity. ‘Interlok’ conveys the central message that Chinese, Indian and other minorities are second-class citizens in addition to perpetuating the divisive notion of a host community (the Malays) versus foreigners (‘bangsa asing’ Cina dan India).”

So how can Muhyiddin regard the Interlok issue as closed when even now the Chinese community has voiced its strong objections against Inetrlok being continued to be used as a school text?

BN government can choose to behave like an ostrich that buries its head in the sand, and regard the issue as closed, but DAP will continue to pursue the Interlok issue and even make it a major issue in the next general election.

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