Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Interlok panel rep not amused by 'magic stickers'

Regina Lee
Jun 21, 11

An Indian representative on a government committee to review the controversial novel Interlok is crying foul over their decision to use special stickers to cover the offending text.

seminar llg 20100619 10 uthaya sankarUthaya Sankar SB (right), who writes in Malay, said that using a sticker, which he calls a 'magic sticker', never arose when the committee met to discuss the novel.

“This went against what the education minister promised when he was made aware of the 106 proposed amendments from the Indian representatives in the panel,” he said in a blog posting today.

It was reported in English daily the New Straits Times that adhesive cut-outs will be used to replace the affected texts. According to the newspaper, Deputy Education Minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi had said that stickers were used because only nine pages were affected.

It was also reported that the ministry accepted 87 out of the 106 amendments, and that there were only 19 parts which were considered 'offensive to the Indian community', including the usage of the word 'pariah' which denotes the lowest Indian caste.

Uthaya also insisted that there should be a complete reprint of the book to be used as the literature text for Form Five students in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Selangor and Negri Sembilan.

“In March before we started our press conference, we received a call from the Prime Minister's Office assuring that the novel will be reprinted before being distributed to the schools as the Bahasa Malaysia literature text,” he said.

When contacted by Malaysiakini, he further added: “It's not like the government has no money to reprint the books for the students. This is an insult to (the author) a national laureate.”

He also said that the decision to use 'magic stickers' to amend the novel, using whatever reason, is a sign of the crushed hopes and dreams in the Education Ministry's credibility, capability and integrity to resolve the controversy fairly.

Interlok was written by national laureate Abdullah Hussain in 1971 about the lives of three people in the early 1900s in Penang.

Apart from the word 'pariah', the novel also made references to violence and alcoholism by the Indian characters.

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