Novel row: Malay govt accepts proposed amendments

`Interlok` is proposed to be part of high school Malay literature curriculum.

Updated: Mar 26, 2011, 15:53 PM IST

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia`s Education Ministry has accepted the over 100 amendments proposed by a panel of ethnic Indians to a Malay novel that offended the community, in a bid to put to an end the controversy over its use as a textbook.

The book `Interlok` is proposed to be part of the high school Malay literature curriculum and a section of ethnic Indians had complained that some words used in the book were offensive to the community.

A panel of three ethnic Indian representatives which studied the novel proposed 106 amendments to be incorporated in the book.

Reports here said today that the Education Ministry, has accepted the recommendations of the panel.

Two of the representatives, G Krishnabahawan and Uthaya Sankar SB, said the Education Ministry agreed that the student edition of the novel `Interlok` would be reprinted with the amendments.

On Thursday, the government had announced that a panel set up to look into the suggestions had decided that the word `Pariah` be dropped from the text.

The Indians had said that the word denoted caste system which they said did not exist in Malaysia.

"The Indian representatives would review the amended draft of the novel before it goes for printing," the Star newspaper quoted them as saying.

The other representative, Prof NS Rajendran, who is away in India, did not attend the briefing.

Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin told Parliament on Thursday that 19 parts considered offensive by the Indian community in the novel `Interlok` including the term `pariah` had either been dropped, changed or substituted with more acceptable terms.

Muhyiddin said the changes were made following recommendations by the independent panel set up in January to review the novel.

The panel met on March 23 to review the changes of which 19 were deemed sensitive to the Indian community, he said.

Uthaya said the sensitive issues related to the novel had been resolved and there was no need for it to be "politicised".

"On the amendments, he said, 87 were related to language and factual errors contained in the novel written by national laureate Abdullah Hussain and necessary action would be taken by the publisher.

"The other 19 changes were requested as they could hurt the sensitivities of the Indian community," he added.