Interlok and Hindraf

Interlok was first written by a Malay author, Abdullah Hussein, in the mid-1960s. The novel tells the story of Malaysia’s three major races, namely Malays, Chinese and Indians.

The story is set during the era before and after the Japanese occupation.

In the novel, the author has introduced the Indians to the Malays as the “pariah” caste. Herein lies the problem in modern Malaysia.

The term “pariah” has angered Indians in this country much like the derogatory word “keling” did years ago when Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka bulldozed the community’s views and sanctioned it as “an acceptable” word.

At the outset, allow me to establish that Interlok is not a record of history. There are factual errors in the novel.

The author himself has admitted Interlok to be merely a work of fiction and not meant to be a footnote on history.

My hope is that the ministry (the Education Ministry) will justify to the parents and explain the benefits of reading Interlok to the students.

Whether these students, who incidentally will become future leaders in multiracial Malaysia, will be united after reading this book is subjective.

My opinion is that Interlok offers a warped perspective and will only create a deeper wedge between the races in Malaysia.

The book and its running theme does nothing to encourage unity and respect between communities.


If the (pariah) word cannot be replaced, then the book (Interlok) itself should be replaced next year by another suitable Malay novel. There are other great Malay writers and novels. For example, Shahnon Ahmad's 'Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan' is also a great piece of writing which I think has more unifying potential than Abdullah's superficial and misrepresented piece of fictionalised social commentary.
'Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan' would make non-Malays understand the sufferings of the poor Malays in the early post colonial days and they would be more appreciative and understanding of the NEP and affirmative action taken by the government to help bring the Malays to the mainstream of development.

The NEP is one source of discontent among non-Malays who feel that they are being short changed and Shahnon's novel would help them realise that without institutional intervention many Malays would continue to be as Lahuma and Jeha (the two key characters in the book). Understanding and appreciation of the spirit of NEP would work wonders in fostering unity.

For some Indians to resort to extreme measures such as burning the book shows the extent to which they are hurt not only by the content of the novel but by society's attitude in ridiculing their feelings and labeling them as ignorant of the merits of the novel.

Friends, since the arrogance of Pakatan is rearing its ugly head, HRP/Hindraf has no choice but to go it alone in the 13th GE. Well, as many of you believe that they will be a casualty in the polls, even losing their deposits, I believe they might win at most two seats. This may sound insignificant but it will go a long way.

Even if they don't win at all, so what? HRP's struggle has just begun. It will only pick up momentum. They will emerge even stronger the next time around. However, the real losers will be Pakatan. Pakatan has everything to lose, so they must be magnanimous and engage HRP.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Abdullah hussein or hassan are belong to species of lowest caste,they don't have anything belongs to them starting from language,culture,religion it goes on and on.They expect people with rich in culture to read these jokers literature,it's utterly utterly insane!!! Acts of these are morons in return belittle some good authors in the society. Literally Indian caste system was referred to way of life,if that is so,how do you define bumiputras who rape and rob their motherland,or else how could anyone explain illicit money flow in billions,with huge overseas bank accounts. This mechanism was designed to protect umno bastards for ever.Well! not always,13th GE is awaiting for the right moment to explode and destroy them.

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