Interlok: Your God in capital letter, my god in lower case
Open letter to Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin
You, Sir, are becoming a complete embarrassment to this country. If Interlok has given anyone an opportunity to prove anything at all, then probably it has given you the best chance to expose your Umno NEP intellectuality.
From the very beginning, the issue with Interlok has been very clear. It was a case of an unsuitable book and wrongly chosen without a thorough analysis. Or otherwise, it was deliberately chosen with the ill-intention of poisoning innocent young minds in schools with the venomous agenda of Umno racism and Umno supremacy.
The book – which Indians were the first to object to (infuriated as they are by the vilification of their community from the demeaning portrayal of Indian characters throughout the novel) – is also being rejected by non-Indians, who have begun to see the inappropriateness of the book as a major public exam material.
Your excuses for rejecting the amendments suggested as ‘minute’, ‘not pertinent’, not sensitive’, ‘non-important things’ , etc. demonstrates your shallow thinking and dearth of knowledge in the areas concerned – linguistics, literature and academic assessment!
You rubbished the suggestion to correct the misspelt word ‘tuhan’ to ‘Tuhan’ as ‘minute’ ‘not pertinent’ and ‘non-important’! Is this sheer stupidity or ignorance beyond help? It is really hard to figure out in those bred by Umno’s NEP.
Respecting spelling and scholarship
Accuracy in spelling is a basic requirement in language, literature, and all other disciplines for that matter. Simonsen & Gunther (2001, p. 104) in their research paper, Best Practices in Spelling Instruction: A Research Summary concluded that while often neglected, spelling is an important academic skill for students to learn in school. Masterson & Apel (2010, p. 35) in discussing spelling sensitivity explained that spelling is a language skill supported by several linguistic knowledge sources, including phonemic, orthographic, and morphological knowledges.
Even for students with learning disabilities and dyslexia, different teaching and assessment methodologies are being used to develop their spelling skills.
A quick search in the world’s top teaching research journals would reveal hundreds of research work world wide and their findings on developing spelling skills. As Interlok is a compulsory text, it is of utmost importance to ensure that both the examination paper and the reading material are perfect, devoid of any error. Hence the long list of suggestions from the three Indian panel members.
Nevertheless, in an attempt to belittle and vilify the Indians (as Umno stalwarts like you always do), you had actually brushed off those suggestions as ‘minute’ ‘non-important’ and ‘not pertinent’!
In all honesty, this (tuhan) is not merely a misspelt word but rather deliberate and continued act by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka – DBP (baashai/pustakam from Tamil) to promote Islamic bigotry and religious fanaticism. By spelling the word ‘tuhan’ with a lower case ‘t’ whenever it was Maniam or his family members referring to God, in contrast with Seman or his mother referring to God with an upper case ‘T’ for ‘Tuhan’, you and Umno are also telling the Hindus that the Muslim God is the only God and ours is a lower God, a demigod.
If this is not yet another subtle form of Islamisation of the young innocent minds into accepting Islam as the greatest religion, just as what is being done with the History syllabus, then what is it?
“Sejak bapanya meninggal dunia, Seman cukup rajin beribadat. Cukup banyak dia meminta doa kepada Tuhan supaya …Dia teringat akan Tuhan … Barangkali ibunya sedang meminta doa kepada Tuhan supaya … Siapa tahu kuasa Tuhan? Barangkali itupun kuasa Tuhan. …Barangkali itupun kuasa Tuhan. Baru kali inilah dia berasa dirinya benar-benar dekat dengan Tuhan. Baru kali inilah dia berasa sembahyangnya diterima oleh Tuhan…(pages 293-294)
Compare this to: Maniam tidak ada anak…Dia percaya suatu masa nanti, tuhan akan memberi kepada mereka cahaya mata. (p. 214)
Maniam berasa dia mengenali orang yang bertubuh rendah itu… Ya, tuhanku! Serunya perlahan-lahan. (p. 230)
Maniam terus mencangkul… Ya tuhanku! Mengapa aku jadi begini? (p. 244)
Hold your breath and read on…!
Children of lesser gods
Tuhan I: Allah yang mencipta alam semesta…(Kamus Dewan Edisi Ketiga, m.s. 1478)
tuhan II sesuatu (seperti dewa dsb) yang dipuja oleh golongan manusia yang agama atau kepercayaan mereka tidak berasaskan kepercayaan kepada Tuhan Yg Esa (Kamus Dewan Edisi Ketiga, m.s. 1478)
Yes, the above Malay national dictionary citations are a deliberate propaganda by DBP that is responsible for publishing both Kamus Dewan and Interlok (student edition) to promote Islam as the greatest religion in the world.
Tuhan can only be Allah, and can never be Jesus, Shiva, Shakti, Buddha, Yahweh, Waheguru, or any other God. All other gods are lower beings than the Islamic Tuhan. Look at how DBP reduces the other gods into ‘sesuatu’, ‘dewa’ dan ‘sebagainya’.
In Hinduism, Dewa or Devargal is/are never God(s). What is DBP and Umno trying to indoctrinate in the minds of school children with such an extreme vilification of other religions?
Who gave the right to Umno and DBP to decide whose GOD is higher and whose is not. Such spelling of words has far reaching consequences, which Umno seemed to have capitalized on very well.
A research by H.M. Olk (2002, p. 126) titled Translating culture, a think-aloud protocol study, proves that students perceive capitalized nouns as having a higher status, given that in English, all proper nouns have capital letters and that usually means they are important. Going by the same perception, our students too will eventually be made to believe that Islam is the greatest religion in the world. We know Umno’s shrewd mine just too well.
In translation there is a methodology called ‘back translation’. This technique is used to get accuracy in translation of difficult words, including cultural terms. A back translation of the misspelt word ‘tali’ would give an equivalent ‘kayiru’ (rope/string) whereas the translation of the suggested correction ‘taali’ would produce an equivalent ‘maangalyam/ taali/manggala sutra’ (marriage sacred thread). As such, the marriage sacred thread should be spelt ‘taali’ as rightly suggested by the three Indian panelists reviewing Interlok.
In the English grammar, the rules of using capital letters are clearly explained. Capital letters are among others used for the first word of a sentence or a fragment, names of days in a week, months in a year, etc., names of languages, nationalities, ethnic groups, proper nouns, festivals and holy days, religious terms including names of religions, names or titles of divine beings, titles of certain important figures, names of important events, names of sacred books, name of a book, a play, a poem, a film, a magazine, a newspaper, etc.
Hence it is simple logic that a special reference to god should be capitalized. Nonetheless, in Malay, only Islamic god is ‘Tuhan’ not any other god. We are tempted to ask you then, will you agree to India referring to your Islamic god as ‘allah’ and their god as ‘Shiva’, ‘Krishna, ‘Rama’, ‘Lakshmi’, ‘Parvathi’, etc? Will you agree to England referring to Muslims as ‘muslims’ or ‘Quran’ as ‘quran’?