Sabtu, 26 Mac 2011

BN in a bind of its own making over books - Interlok and the Alkitab

BN in a bind of its own making over books - Interlok and the AlkitabThe Federal Government has certainly gotten itself into a bind where books are concerned.
First, the issue of Interlok a novel written in 1971 by a national laureate and made compulsory literature reading for the Form 5 school syllabus.  Although this novel portrays the Malays, Chinese and Indians according to the situation of the 1920s era, it has been deemed derogatory by the Indians who claimed that there are many words, phrases and passages portraying them in a bad light.
A panel was set up by the government in January this year to resolve the matter and it was finally decided that 19 parts considered offensive by the Indian community in the novel Interlok, including the term 'pariah', will either be dropped, changed or substituted with more acceptable terms, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was reported as saying in the mainsteam media on 25th March 2011.
The remaining 87 parts in the dispute were not considered offensive and had nothing to do with the issue at hand. Muhyiddin, who is also the Education minister, said three portions in the novel referring to caste were dropped while three others which referred to the cow (which is a sacred animal for Hindus), among others, were resolved without any problems.
"The issue is definitely not resolved.  The government has missed the whole point.  We don't want any amendments made to the contents of the book.  We just do not want it to be used in school, that is all," said S Kulasegaran, DAP's Ipoh Barat MP who has been among those championing the removal of Interlok from schools' syllabus.
Najib closing an eye
Sivarasa Rasiah of PKR stressed that Pakatan Rakyat respects the literary freedom of the author and Pakatan's stand is that the book should not be amended but just that it should not be allowed to use in school.
The PKR Subang MP said that according to well-known sociologist, author and co-founder of USM Dr Collin Abraham, any book which is to be used as a school textbook should not contain sensitive or negative issues which can be misconstrued pertaining to gender, race and religion.
Sivarasa informed Malaysia Chronicle that Dr Collin is of the view that school literature should not have contents pertaining to ethnic stereotyping but should inculcate noble values to foster harmony and racial unity.
It is clear that Prime Minister Najib Razak is not taking any steps to address the situation but just sweeping the problem under the carpet via a few cosmetic strokes of the pen, said Sivarasa.
Sivarasa added that the government should formulate strategies to put into practice the 1Malaysia slogan instead of just mouthing empty rhetoric.
Then the Alkitab
Another controversy pertaining to books surrounds the 31,500 copies of the Bahasa Malaysia Bibles which have been impounded at Port Klang and Kuching Port.
This issue too has not been resolved although with the Sarawak State Election fast-approaching on 16th April, the Federal Government has decided to release the confiscated books.
The Bibles will now have stickers being pasted over the serial numbers but bearing the words 'For Christianity' on it, although Bishop Paul Tan of the Roman Catholic Church has said that the correct terminology should be 'Christian publication'.
Be that as it may, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein still saw fit to remark that  'you (Christians) can even say the Bibles are smelly after being kept for so long’ during his press conference on 17th March.
To the Christians, Hisham's remark adds salt to the wound and further degrades their image and the importance of the Bible to their community.
Further anguish came in the form of the recent statement by Sarawak BN leader and Deputy Minister for Information, Communication and Culture, Joseph Salang Gandum that Christians 'should not make fools of themselves' and 'Christians need not take to the streets to express their anger over the Bibles row'.
These intentionally hurtful remarks just go to show that Christian leaders in BN have followed in the footsteps of Judas Iscariot, said Pakatan. They have sacrificed their principles in order to curry favour with the ruling elite and brow-beat their fellow Christians.
Added Kulasegaran, "it is really obvious now that the BN Goverment certainly does not accord sufficient respect to the minorities in this country and are still as arrogant as ever."

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