Interlok’, how we have been locked in Callistus Antony D’Angelus
(see The Malaysian Insider )
MARCH 30 — The debate continues to rage on the controversial novel, “Interlok”, which is to be used in schools as part of the Malay literature curriculum.
Whether it is a novel or a compilation of derogatory remarks is something which we have to use our individual intelligence to discern.
The very fact that parts of the novel have to be edited will have to mean that the novel is inappropriate for use. It is a pity that there is an insistence by the authorities to continue to use the book, as though there is no other book which will serve the purpose of teaching adolescents literature.
In a country where we have continuously stressed the need for sensitivity due to its, the actions of the authorities in brutally following through with their original intentions must tell the public something.
The damage has already been done and it is a shame that we are institutionalising ethnic insensitivity through the formal education system.
This is more than just a controversy about a book. It is about the politics of race relations , of how politics is being used to play one race against the other. This insidious and unethical tactic had been used by the British to good effect when Malaysia was a colony of the British.
Divide-and-rule is one of the major atrocities which colonizers had inflicted on the people of colonized lands. It is a despicable strategy which dismantled well-working institutions and replaced it with institutions intended to make permanent tensions in society for the benefit of the ruling elite.
The thing is that the oppressors have left, but the oppressive tactic of divide-and-rule has been retained.
The benefits of moving away from race based politics in Malaysia cannot be more apparent. As much as we live in a world of great challenges, we live in a world of enormous opportunities.
Malaysia, with all the advantages derived from her natural resources, talented people and unique cross-cultural make-up, should be looking and working towards harnessing these advantages for a more competitive position globally — which will invariably serve the people of this country better.
Stirring ethnic tensions, as is the case with the “Interlok” saga, cannot continue to be the mainstay of Malaysian politics.
The Malaysian people will have to send out a resounding message in the rejection of racial politics.
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