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Media statement by M. Kula Segaran in Parliament on Thursday, 17th March 2011:

"Interlok controversy - Five key questions the Education Minister must ask himself"

It has been reported that following a meeting held at Parliament building with Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday, all three ethnic Indian members of the eight member panel to review and amend the Interlok novel declared they were withdrawing from the government-created body.

Malaysiakini report says that according to writer, Uthaya Shankar the decision was taken after it became apparent that the other members of the panel had changed their minds and rejected one-by-one the 100 modifications that had been recommended to render the book appropriate for consumption by Form 5 students.

"We feel we were betrayed," Uthaya Shankar told Malaysiakini.

The failure of the panel to resolve the issue has not come as a surprise at all to me or to the Indian community.

On Feb 12, I had said these in a media statement:-

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has recently said that the novel Interlok will remain as a literature textbook for Form Five students, but changes will be made to parts deemed sensitive by the Indian community. He further said an independent panel would be set up to study the types of amendments and submit recommendations to the Government.

"The decision to continue using the novel, with amendments so as not to hurt the feelings of the Indian community, is the best solution," Muhyiddin said in a statement.

But can Muhyiddin guarantee that all inaccuracies and demeaning words will be deleted/amended to the satisfaction of the Indian community?

I do not think so and I therefore do not agree that what he has announced is the best solution. The best, simple and right solution will be the withdrawal of the book.

Time has proven what I had said to be right.The issue can only be resolved if the government is prepared to look at controversy from the right perspective and willing to exercise the necessary political will.

The five key questions that the Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin must ask himself are:

  1. Is it not true that the book contains inaccuracies and demeaning words which have hurt the Indian community's feelings?

  2. Can such a controversial book be used as a school text book?

  3. Can the book truly promote better racial understanding and forge unity?

  4. Is it not justified for the Indian community to demand the withdrawal of the book as a textbook for SPM students?

  5. Has not the controversy been allowed to drag on long enough? The answers are obvious. I am sure Muhyiddin can answer these questions correctly.

It is therefore puzzling and illogical that the government has not come out with the correct solution.

PR reiterates that the only acceptable solution is the immediate withdrawal of the novel as a school textbook.

* M. Kula Segaran, DAP National Vice Chairman & MP for Ipoh Barat



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