Just spoke at the Interlok forum organized by NIAT at the Chinese Assembly Hall, Kuala Lumpur.
PR will continue, inside and outside the Parliament, to demand the withdrawal of the Interlok novel as a school text.
On March 27, 2011, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced in Parliament that under no circumstances will the Interlok novel be withdrawn as a literature text for form 5 students.
It was obvious that the government had wanted to end the Interlok controversy.
Muhyiddin said that the issue was over as the Panel set up to review the book’s contents had made recommendations and some of which had been accepted.
How could the issue be over when voices of objection against the continued use of the novel as a school text are still strong?
Muhyiddin and the half past six Cabinet can choose to say that the issue has been resolved, but the people can see that the government is behaving like an ostrich that buries its head in the sand.
This is a government that refuses to see the truth and reality.
The truth is that the Interlok novel is unsuitable as a school text.
The reality is that the voices of objections are still strong.
At the material time when Muhyiddin was justifying the use of Interlok as a literature text, I had asked him if the decision to stay put with the novel by the Government was based on threats and pressures from Gapena, Malay NGO's and Perkasa.
He replied that the merits of the novel was the factor which resulted in the novel to be used in Zone 2, namely KL, Putrajaya, Selangor and Negeri Sembilian.
How could such a controversial novel which has hurt the feelings of the people and which cannot promote racial harmony in the nation continue to be used as school text?
I asserted that it was due to the pressure from Gapena, Malay NGO's and Perkasa that the Government has decided the novel as a text book.
I still believe today that the government’s decision was a political decision.
And it was a very wrong decision.
Interlok controversy is not about race or literature freedom. It is about respect for the people’s feelings and about using the right book as school text.
A government must listen to the legitimate, rational and justified voices of the people.
A government must not bow to pressures and objections which are not based on logic and reason but worse, are racially motivated.
The Interlok’s continued usage as school text will have long term negative impact on the efforts to forge better racial understanding and unity among the young, it is too important for Malaysians to regard and accept the issue as closed.
PR-DAP will continue, inside and outside the Parliament, to demand the withdrawal of the novel as a school text.
Let me remind the government that if it continues to stick to its political decision, then it will ultimately pay the political price in the next general election.
PR-DAP will certainly make Interlok controversy a major issue in the next general election