Malaysia: Book’s controversial texts to be changed

The book had contents which were considered offensive by the minority ethnic Indian community.

Kuala Lumpur: Resorting to cost-cutting
measures, the Malaysian government has asked the teachers to
manually change the words and phrases in a controversial text
book which had contents considered offensive by the minority
ethnic Indian community.

Deputy Education Minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi said the
process was being done manually by teachers instead of
reprinting the book, adding that only nine pages in the book
were affected and it would not be burden on the teachers.

The books were recalled from the students last week to
allow for the amendments to be made.

The novel, Interlok, by national laureate Abdullah
Hussein, is the text literature for senior students.

Months after announcing amendments to the
controversial text book the Malaysian government has initiated
cost-cutting measures by asking the teachers to manually
change the words and phrases.

The text book, which was adapted from a well known
Malay novel "Interlok" written several years ago, stirred a
storm of emotions among the ethnic Indian community which
objected to words like "pariah" used the story.

It said that pariah connoted a caste system which the
minority community says does not exist in Malaysia.

A Panel was set up by the government after the NGOs
minority ethnic Indian and Chinese community in Malaysia
protested over the decision to put up the book as senior
school curriculum reading.

The panel suggested some amendments which was accepted
by the government including the deletion of the word "pariah".

Multi-ethnic Malaysia has a majority population of 60
percent Muslim Malays while ethnic Chinese, who are mostly
Buddhists and Christians, form 60 25 per cent and ethnic
Indians, mostly Hindus, form eight percent of the population.

There was no protest over the novel written by the
country`s national laureate several years ago.

However, criticisms and protests started when it was
decided to make the book a part of the high school curriculum

Only schools in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Selangor and
Negri Sembilan states are affected.

Puad said adhesive cut-outs, supplied by the ministry
to the schools, were being used to make the amendments.

Saying it would be easier this way, he said reprinting
would be a waste as the whole book was not being changed.

Puad said it should not be too much for the teachers
to handle, adding that it was part of a teacher`s
responsibility and did not require hard labour.


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