The Indian community is very concerned and disturbed about the adoption of the novel as part of the school syllabus.
It is also regrettable that the Ministry of Education did not apply its sense of judgment properly when approving the novel as the word ‘Pariah’ is not only offensive but also humiliating to the Indian community.
Its contents are a mockery to the Indians and therefore not suitable for teaching of literature in a multi-racial society such as ours.
Calls for a dialogue between representatives of the Indian community and the Ministry of Education is just a waste of time as it will not bring about a satisfactory solution.
Also, seeking the views, comments and opinions of groups who are not privy to the issue can only add insult to injury.
The government must therefore view the grouses of the Indian community with serious concern and take positive steps to resolve the matter intelligently.
As a responsible government, it should focus its attention on the embittered feelings of the Indians which should be taken as the benchmark to address the current issue and not other factors which are irrelevant.
Although a dialogue between representatives of the Indian community and the government side has been held lately, the result of it is yet to be known.
Meanwhile, recent press statements indicating that the cabinet would like to see more dialogues being held to iron out the issue is causing frustration to the Indian community who view it as a tactic by the government to drag its feet on the matter.
Quite frankly, what is there to discuss any further as though the word ‘Pariah’ is a scientific term that requires astute deliberation.
Common sense will tell that it is a derogatory term that cannot be allowed in any book, leave alone ‘Interlok’ which is meant for the teaching of literature in schools.
Even the Indian government forbids the use of the word ‘Pariah’ upon another and it is an offence to do so.
Hence, why should we in Malaysia want to use this word in a literature book as if to remind the younger generation of the existence of this obnoxious word.
The ball is now at the feet of the government and it must act swiftly without dilly-dallying.