Thursday, March 31, 2011

Interlok - no more an 'indian' concern, as Chinese Malaysians voice out

It does not affect me, so I am not bothered. This is not right, and all good Malaysians and persons must be concern about all wrongs, injustices and human rights violations irrespective of whether it affects me, my community, my religion or my nation.

With the coming out with these statement by 45 prominent Malaysian groups, of Chinese ethnicity, the issue becomes less seen as only an ethnic Indian issue - but a Malaysian issue.

I sincerely hope that Anwar Ibrahim also reform his and PKR's position on this book (see below, the Malay Mail, 11/1/2011, No racist element in 'Interlok': Anwar). Anwar may have been mis-reported or changed his (and PKR's) position, and I hope if this is so, people will post information about this in the comments below this post

A number of prominent Chinese groups are among 45 organisations which inked a joint statement criticising the government's decision to retain the controversial novel 'Interlok' as a compulsory textbook for secondary schools.

In a strongly-worded statement, the civil society groups ticked off the novel for attempting to indoctrinate Form Five students with the 'Malay supremacy' ideology.

NONEDescribing 'Interlok' as an “insidious poison”, the civil society groups accused the novel of propagating the ideology of “Ketuanan Melayu”.

“In fact, Interlok is barely a step away from the Biro Tatanegara 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).

“Not so subtly, 'Interlok' intends to put the Chinese and Indians in their place as 'pendatang', and validating a social hierarchy according to ethnic origin.”

Organisations which signed the statement included KL and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall, Johor Federation of Chinese Associations and Penang Chinese Town Hall.

It is however not the first time that Chinese groups have issued statements on the matter.
“Not only offensive to Indians, Interlok portrays the Chinese in the most derogatory manner too,” said the hard-hitting statement.

“Kim Lock (in 'Interlok') is depicted as a miserly opium addict and callous adulterer while his son Chin Huat is painted as cunning, greedy, unscrupulous and someone who would happily sell his daughters.

“A major thread of the plot has the Chinese character cheating and oppressing the Malay character. Other Chinese characters such as the communist guerrillas are nasty and immoral, and the Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army comprising Chinese recruits is demonised by the author.”

The civil society groups said that 'Interlok' has failed to comply with the guidelines set by the Education Ministry.

“The National Interlok Action Team (Niat) has pointed out that its contents violate five out of six criteria outlined by the KBSM (Malaysian National Syllabus for Secondary Schools) textbook guidelines.

“Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin recently announced that the government has agreed to amend 19 words/passages found to be sensitive. Nonetheless, the fact that the 'Interlok' review panel has had to suggest a total of 106 changes only goes to show how problematic the novel is.

“Furthermore, the withdrawal in protest of the three Indian panelists serves to discredit the ministry's proposed resolution to the issue.”

Solution is to replace 'Interlok'

The groups said that the way out of the impasse is to replace 'Interlok' with other text more suitable for use in the classroom.

“Some defenders of 'Interlok' have claimed that the main characters in the book are mere individuals who cannot be extrapolated as representatives of their race.

“This is a mistaken line of argument as the Interlok lesson guide produced by the Education Ministry's curriculum development department has clearly stated: 'The theme of Interlok is the integration of three main races – Malay, Chinese and Indian – in Malaysia and the challenges they face in order to live together in an independent and sovereign country'.

“Because it is the ministry itself which has dictated that the characters in the novel are allegorical, therefore it will be wrong for us to now view them as atypical. Rather the Pak Musa, Chin Huat and Maniam personas (in 'Interlok') are indeed symbolic of their races.”

The joint statement stressed that the protest against 'Interlok' was in no way a disrespect to author Abdullah Hussain's freedom of expression.

“We do not object to his novel being sold in the bookshops. We do not ask either for the unabridged original version to be edited or censored although we welcome its critical appraisal by discerning adults. But the upshot is Interlok should not be a textbook in schools.” - Malaysiakini, 30/1/2011, Chinese groups weigh in on Interlok

Appendix : Controversial passages in Interlok

Jual Anak

  1. Kita makan apa yang dapat. Akar-akar kayu kalau ada. Kita minta sedekah. Kita curi. Kita tak punya anak perempuan. Kalau ada anak perempuan kita boleh jual. (Kim Lock, MS 119-120)
  2. "Dia sudah bagus kerja sini, itu tauke bilang Cing Huat banyak rajin dan kalau lu mau jual dia mau beli"...... dia (Kim Lock) belum pernah teringat mahu jual anaknya yang tunggal itu. Entahlah kalau anak itu perempuan. Tetapi sekarang apa sebab dia mahu jual? Dia mencari-cari sebab itu dalam hatinya pada waktu itu (MS 151)
  3. Tetapi kalau Kim Lock mahu menjual anaknya itu dia boleh dapat untung lebih banyak lagi (MS 155)
  4. Kok Leng mendesaknya supaya menjual Cing Huat. Untung dia tidak banyak cakap, kalau tidak Cing Huat bukan anaknya lagi. Kalau anak perempuan tentu dia sudah jual (MS 160)

Gila Perempuan / Menghisap Candu

  1. Malam ini dia mesti tidur dengan perempuan loki Gweek Cin, yang kurus langsing dan berdada rata serta berkaki kecil itu (Kim Lock, MS 155)
  2. Muka Surat 200-203, Kim Lock membawa Mei Hwa untuk menghisap candu dan mengadakan hubungan seks dengan dia setiap kali bertemu begitu. Kim Lock mahu membawa Mei Hwa tingga bersama-sama mereka, Cing Huat tidak bersetuju dan meminta panggil ibunya dari Tung San ke sini, Kim Lock menolaknya dengan alasan "Itu akan memakan masa terlalu lama. Wang Kita juga tidak cukup"
  3. MS 457-458, orang tua pasukan komunis Teck Hock cuba merogol Poh Eng tetapi diselamatkan

Gelojoh / Wang ialah Tuhan

  1. Walaupun benar ada pepatah bangsanya mengatakan "Kalau ada wang, kamu menjadi seorang anak Han yang berani, kalau tidak wang susah nak jadi anak Han pun"(MS 482)
  2. Soal duit tak ada musuh, musuh ialah orang-orang yang mau menghalang kita cari makan (MS 141)
  3. Dalam kota besar dan asing serupa ini orang tidak boleh kasihan, kalau kasihan kita tidak boleh kaya. Di sini wang yang menjadi ukuran. Dalam dunia ini wang itu Tuhan nombor dua (MS 155-156)
  4. Dia sudah mulai sedar bahawa di rantau selatan ini , bukan semangat nenek moyang yang dapat menolong, melainkan wang ringgit. Wangnya ada dan keinginan pada tubuh perempuan pun makin mendesak. Kalau Kim Sui boleh kahwin dan menyimpan perempuan di bandar, maka mengapa pula dia tidak boleh menyimpan perempuan. Apa salahnya? (MS 198)

Diskriminasi / Menipu / Mengeksploitasi Orang Melayu

  1. Cing Huat pun sudah boleh sedikit-sedikit bercakap dengan Huan na, dia sudah tahu orang-orang itu orang Melayu, tetapi dia lebih senang memanggil mereka Huan na atau Malai Kuai sahaja, seperti yang biasa dipanggil oleh bangsanya (MS 179)
  2. "Cina Panjang kata tanah-tanah itu semuanya haknya belaka. Lembu yang kami bela itu pun hartanya juga. Bapa saya telah gadai kepadanya" (MS 88)
  3. Kata Seman tanah itu semua sudah digadai pada Cina Panjang tu, dan orang Cina tu pun dah suruh Seman ini keluar dari kampong tersebut (MS 92)
  4. ...... tanah-tanah kita yang dilindungi oleh undang-undang tu tergadai kepada bangsa asing. Kita tak upaya nak buat apa-apa¡­¡­kecut perut sayaa mendengar cerita ni. Lama-lam habis harta benda kita tergadai. Tak bolehkah kita menolongnya? "Cuma satu jalan saja. Itu pun kalau orang-orang kita mau sedar, mau insaf. Jangan ada orang yang ikut jejak pak musa tu" (MS 95-96) -
Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 17:41:00

PETALING JAYA: The novel "Interlok" does not contain any racist element as claimed by certain quarters, Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said.

"I read this novel a long time ago; I did not see any racist element in there," he told a news conference here.

Anwar, who is Parti Keadilan Rakyat de facto leader, said a calm discussion should be held between those who questioned the content of the novel and the Education Ministry, which introduced the novel as a literature textbook for Form Five starting this year.

Anwar was asked to comment on the call by certain quarters who wanted the novel by national laureate Abdullah Hussain to be withdrawn from school, claiming that it contain elements deemed offensive to the Indian community.

On Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's criticism of the Opposition pact's 100-day reform plan, Anwar said he was prepared to engage the premier in a debate on the matter.

Najib said yesterday that the plan, which the opposition intends to implement within 100 days if they win the 13th general election, was unrealistic and contained only populist measures.

Meanwhile, Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim has spoken against any move to ban the book, saying doing so was not in line with the current development in the information age.

What should be done instead was to hold discussions involving those who were against the book, and the Education Ministry, he said.

"I feel that there should not be a barrier to the free flow of information," he told reporters after attending a dialogue with the Selangor Business Council in Shah Alam.

Abdul Khalid said, however, that the country's education system should be sensitive to the needs of the people of various cultures and ethnicities. - Malay Mail, 11/1/2011, No racist element in 'Interlok': Anwar

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