Home TA Online 2011 TA Online Interlok controversy: BN govt responsible

Interlok controversy: BN govt responsible

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The BN government is responsible for the unhappiness and controversy over Interlok, observes Rani Rasiah. If it had been just left on the shelves of bookshops, available to all who care to read it, there would have been none of this controversy.

Imagine if Zunar’s recent caricatures on the power structure in the PM’s office were not banned, if Amir Mohamad’s The Last Communist was sold in bookshops, if ‘cross’ structures were allowed to be, if history wasn’t grossly distorted to conform to official views…

Imagine if we lived in a social environment where our multi-ethnicity was not exploited by the ruling elite to divide and rule us, if our leaders’ brand of self-serving politics didn’t require them to sow hostility and distrust among the racial groups, if there were no such slogans as Ketuanan Melayu, if we were Malaysians first and not Malays, Indians and Chinese even after 54 years of independence, if there was no BTN to corrupt our minds about the other…

Imagine if we lived in a place where all the different ethnic groups were not busy labelling each other ‘pendatang’, where at the slightest provocation we were not told to ‘balik China’ or ‘balik India’ or ‘Balik Indonesia’…

If the novel Interlok were introduced into such a place I believe there would be no controversy.

But we don’t live in an environment like that. The reactions to the book are predictable, being the result of decades and decades of conditioning through racial divide-and-rule politics, and the blatant racial and religious chauvinism of those leading the country. So it’s highly hypocritical when the ruling elite act surprised at the outrage expressed by mainly the Indian community, and now the Chinese community. That is exactly the way the government has groomed us to react in a situation like Interlok.

Like good students of divide-and-rule government, the three communities stand disunited and apart in their reaction to the same issue. The Indian community has taken offence to the use of the word, ‘pariah’ and to a number of statements regarding the Indian characters that it sees as insulting and untrue. It has organised itself into Indian groups to demand the withdrawal of the book. The Malay community, specifically the Malay writers association, representing the Malay author, have predictably come to his defence. The Chinese community, not directly implicated in the long-drawn Indian controversy, stayed out of the fray – until recently when Chinese groups began to make known their unhappiness at what they see as negative stereotyping of their community. Well done, BN!

After dragging the issue in the media for weeks and weeks and introducing the word ‘pariah’ , the very word at the root of the controversy, to the entire Malaysian population during that period, the government has decided to retain the book for use in schools, with a promise that some changes will be made. For a government that boasts of being sensitive to the people and claims to listen to them, it deserves zero marks in this instance for its total insensitivity.

The BN government is responsible for the unhappiness and controversy over Interlok. If it had been just left on the shelves of bookshops, available to all who care to read it, there would have been none of this controversy. But it was mindlessly(?) introduced as compulsory text for Form Five students – but even at that stage, the problem was not nipped in the bud.

Rani Rasiah, an Aliran member, is coordinator of the Oppressed People’s Network (Jerit)

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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Victor K S N
11 Mar 2011 3.12pm

People, people, open your eyes! The BN clowns are actually revealing their true colors through this ‘… Episode’. They are proving that they are mere hypocrites with their ‘1 Malaysia’ slogan. Another blow under their belt which will bring them down come next election. They never never learn, do they? It was the so called ‘Indian Factor’ which almost wipe them out last election and they can still afford to ignore this fact. Well, let the … be the cause for the complete obliteration of the BN come next election and the ‘… Syndrome’ go down in history.

12 Mar 2011 12.16am
Reply to  Victor K S N

I am no BN fan but I hope you understand that Pakatan is as bad as BN – 8.4% quorum for PKR elections, 0.002% quorum for DAP Exco, various elections besides MASSIVE sackings and resignations by Indians.

6 Mar 2011 7.29pm

All this is the doing of a (someone), who in his degree is “Anak Lelaki” but now he does not have a anak lelaki or even a “bin”…and all the Malays show respect to this (person)!!!!

5 Mar 2011 3.18pm

And to add a heaping full dose of insult, they stick a 1 Malaysia logo on the cover of the book! So, this is what they mean by 1 Malaysia? Its like kicking the other communities in their face. The wonder of it all is how UMNO/BN then comes with smiling faces during the by-elections and the public they are wooing seems to lap it up and vote their man or woman in! Wake up rakyat! Open your eyes! Do the right thing and help our country!

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