Letter to the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers on Interlok as Literature School Text

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

Dear Esteemed Malaysians,

I am not sure if you have been following this issue which is not only causing concern amongst many Malaysians but it also has the potential to poison young minds through its insidious and divisive racial stereotyping and messages.

I feel that, purely on educational and pedagogical grounds, this book with its denigration of the various communities, and in the context of our multi-ethnic society facing one of the most turbulent periods of our history, should be subject to higher standards of acceptance before being designated as a reading text in our schools.

This is not to challenge the artistic freedom and independence of the writer in pursuing his craft and writing on any subject that he chooses. In our country there is a need for greater candor and honesty on all types of divisive issues, however sensitive there are. Writers and artists should be encouraged to write freely and without any restrictions; and all Malaysians should work harder to dismantle the constraints on our freedom of expression and other freedoms.

The concern over the Interlok book is not about restricting the writer’s freedom of expression or about its literary merits but it is about its harmful impact on young and impressionable minds in the context of our nation-building and 1Malaysia objectives.

I urge you (and other concerned Malaysians) to read the book and arrive at your own conclusion as to the desirability of retaining the book as a required literature text.

I, and many Malaysians, am of the opinion that the book should be withdrawn as a school text.

As the print media has not given sufficient coverage to the many critics of the book, I urge you – before you arrive at your own conclusion – to also take time in reading the analysis of the book and other feedback provided by concerned citizens. The following are some of the critical feedback to date that will be useful:

Hartal MSM, Chinese Sell Their Daughters

Scott Thong, Chock Full of Insults Against Chinese Too

K. Pragalath, Imperative that the Public Lock Horns over ‘Interlok’

Jeyaseelan Anthony, ‘Interlok’: Scant understanding dangerous to schoolchildren

  1. #1 by k1980 on Thursday, 24 February 2011 - 10:21 am

    Malaysia’s Mein Kampf—

    What are the impressions to be drawn from Abdullah’s storytelling above?

    That the Chinese are a nasty, cheating race whom anyone decent would shudder to have as his neighbour.

    The Chinese characters are most unsympathetic and scarcely have any redeeming graces. They have no loyalty to the country (we’ll cover the ‘unpatriotic’ aspect another time).

    This book is a less-than-subtle vehicle to knock into the heads of young students (who have to study this novel for their exam) that the Chinese pendatang — referred to repeatedly in the book as “bangsa asing” — must be grateful for the opportunities given by Malaya. It parallels the ‘pariah’ theme with regard to the Indian characters.

  2. #2 by Godfather on Thursday, 24 February 2011 - 10:25 am

    Is there anything in Interlok that says that the grandson of an Indian immigrant became the longest serving PM of his grandparents’ adopted country and became the absolute leader of the majority race ? And that this grandson of an Indian immigrant wrote “Indian Muslim” on his application form to university ? If there is, then I won’t mind the insults hurled at the other races.

  3. #3 by k1980 on Thursday, 24 February 2011 - 10:51 am

    PR should launch a “Racist of the Year Award” to be presented to any Malaysian whose speeches or writings cause deep divisions among the ethnic groups. The 2011 prize should go to a certain immigrant from Kerala.

  4. #4 by Godfather on Thursday, 24 February 2011 - 10:54 am

    If there were implicit stereotyping of the Malays as lazy and unwilling to learn, then you can bet your bottom ringgit that Perkasa will organise a demonstration to force the withdrawal of the textbook.

    Double standards supported by the Mute Chinese Association and the Mute Indian Congress.

  5. #5 by k1980 on Thursday, 24 February 2011 - 11:18 am

    first they are labeled “bangsa asing”, then “pendatangs” and now mata sepets….. that they are inferior to the master (tuan) race….they are unpatriotic and ungrateful… they were slowly taking over the country.

    A very striking parallel to what happened in Germany—-

  6. #6 by undertaker888 on Thursday, 24 February 2011 - 11:32 am

    i can write a book like inter-unlok as well. let’s be a bigot and stereotype today. it’s easy. make it a school literature as well….

    hasan, a 60-year old grandfather, has been lusting for his 16 year old grand daughter for some time now. Ani gave birth to a baby later on and dumped the baby in the latrine.

    hasan neighbour, che tahir, has a 18 year old son, ahmad. he is a mat rempit. behind the house is a small shack, where ahmad shared his girlfriend with his rempit buddies for a few ringgits. his girlfriend later gave birth and threw the baby in the river bank.

  7. #7 by Godfather on Thursday, 24 February 2011 - 11:39 am

    Undertaker888 writing a new novel ? Nah, it will be “outlawed” for obvious reasons, but it can still be a bestseller if we use our illegal DVD network to distribute.

    Who wants to put up money for the movie ? Guaranteed to make money, even if it is banned in the local cinemas….Iet me be the casting director, and I’ll get Siti Norhaliza to act as the granddaughter and Kera Jantan to act as the mat rempit.

  8. #8 by baochingtian on Thursday, 24 February 2011 - 11:40 am

    Why the education minister always does something that creates controversies and unrests among all malaysians??? Abolishing PPSMI is another one. Is he being creative for the sake outperforming other ministers in the NKPI? Is he supporting 1M concept? I doubt, coz he’s malay first, malaysian 2nd. With this being announced loud and clear, how can MCA, MIC and Gerakan ignore such a statement and still thinking it’ll be fairness and justice for all malaysians under BN? Non-malays will always be 2nd under such a leadership unless MCA, MIC and Gerakan don’t see the deputy PM as a leader.

  9. #9 by DAP man on Thursday, 24 February 2011 - 12:29 pm

    But MCA has nothing to say. No clout to challenge its master, UMNO.
    Maybe MCA leaders do see their daughters.

  10. #10 by Loh on Thursday, 24 February 2011 - 1:21 pm

    If the students are asked in the examination whether the book promotes national unity, what should the answer be? The model answer given would say yes, but the students would say no. So literature would be like BTN courses. Students are expected to memorize the correct answers acceptable to the authority.

    The fact that the government recognizes that the book as it stands cannot be acceptable has solution simple, drop it as a textbook. But the government has decided instead to amend the text. What historical value does the book promote that the government has to go through the unprecedented process of amending the text to make it acceptable? This will be the first time in the world that any government has been involved in editing a book to make it acceptable as a textbook, as if there is only one book in the entire world fit for that purpose. That obviously was not true. What is true is that UMNO is too arrogant to accept that its decision could be challenged.

    UMNO government went to the extent of compromising the standards of investigation just so that TBH could be said to have committed suicide so that there would be no further actions that might embarrass MACC, and now the action taken by UMNO government to ensure that a book written by Malay would be made a textbook shows that UMNO actually demonstrate that it defends the rights of ordinary Malays as would a secret society for its members. So UMNO government is elected by the people and for the people of the polarized group. To members of the secret societies, the leaders can do no wrong. Malaysia is retreating from becoming a nation.

  11. #11 by undertaker888 on Thursday, 24 February 2011 - 2:09 pm

    //I’ll get Siti Norhaliza to act as the granddaughter and Kera Jantan to act as the mat rempit.///

    you get rafidah and soil lek as the mat rempit… :-)

  12. #12 by tak tahan on Friday, 25 February 2011 - 12:29 am

    Loh,that means our government is also ‘or sia hui’-gangster.Scary la.Do you guys know that there was a conflict fight between ketuanan and Si kaki botol in my town 13 to 15 months back?I remembered something like ‘tiga line'(ketuanan gang) came in a swarm of thugs to that incident with slightly more than one thousand members.They randomly smashed most of the cars’s windows and burned some of the unlucky parked motorbikes around that resident area.Few were killed and the injured ones were sent to Ipoh and my hometown.Police men were just looking as if to encourage the revenge even though in actual,this incident was started by one or three stupid drug addicts cum Si kaki botols young farts to slash one student’s wrist and few others hands and foreheads over small incident.I will never trust the government of the day cause i simply encountered 2 less nasty occasions few months back.My brother had one recently,two weeks ago,when he told the blockhead lady to throw her rubbish into the big bin instead on the road side.She replied by saying “Lu makan babi punya orang and bla bla.”Her husband in the car tried to stop her mouth but end up had to face my indomitable older brother.He sensed something was not right then and just yanked his wife into the car and drove off.Some if not most of them have become spoilt and demotivated to the highest degree of immoral entities.I am sad to see it myself but i don’t take it in my heart cause i believe and know that they are not as bad as before they were tutored or indoctrinated to be one devil of the angel.I ate at malay stall today and they assuredly told me that there are many house break-in in my resident area.Even my father’s house and neighbours which are closed to my house were boke in and ransacked.I am planning something to get him and i’ll tell you if i got him.

  13. #13 by good coolie on Sunday, 27 February 2011 - 11:08 pm

    Any self respecting Indian would deny the vote to Barisan in the next general elections. Even if the PM comes to eat chappati/thosai/iddi appam etc at Batu Caves, and carries babies there in front of the cameras. REMEMBER INTERLOK! should be the rallying cry.

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