MIC wants BM literature book touching caste system pulled out

By Dharmender Singh, The Star

PUTRAJAYA: MIC vice-president Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam will send a request to the Education Ministry calling for a stop on the use of the Bahasa Malaysia literature book “Interlock” or , at least, the removal of the section in it touching on the Indian caste system.

Dr Subramaniam, who is also the Human Resource Minister, said the book was to become compulsory reading for form five students starting next year and he feared that it would provide a wrong perception of the Indian community in the country.

He said the main aim behind introducing the book in schools had been to promote better understanding among the races but this purpose would be defeated if the students were given a picture that did not represent the way of life of the Indian community in the country today.

“The book will be read by all students, including those from the other races, and I fear it will lead them away from our aim of creating a better understanding of the Indian community in the country.

“I feel the issue, which is currently being hotly discussed among Indians in the country, will also leave a bitter feeling among the community if something is not done to address it immediately,” he told a press conference after chairing a meeting on the Issue of Remove Classes in Secondary Schools at his ministry here Wednesday. Dr Subramaniam said he had listened to the reaction from the Indian community and also discussed the issue with Education Ministry officials attending the meeting Wednesday before deciding to call for a stop on the use of the book or the section.

He said he would send a letter by the end of this week to raise the issue with the ministry before personally raising the matter with Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin at the cabinet meeting scheduled for Jan 5.

Asked if there was enough time to make changes or stop the use of the book since it was so close to the new school year, he said: “they (the Education Ministry) should do it, otherwise it will create problems.”

On another matter, Dr Subramaniam said would always welcome views and suggestions from any organisation representing the interests and welfare of workers in the country regardless of whether or not the general elections were around the corner.

“The government is the main representative of workers in the country and all our actions take into consideration the welfare and needs of the workers, so the aim of the organisations’ is not different from our’s,” he said.

However, he said, the views raised by the representatives should take a holistic approach by seeking solutions that would help both employees and employers and not just look at the interests of any one side.

He was commenting on a report in an online news portal Wedneday quoting outgoing Malaysian Trade Unions Congress (MTUC) president Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud as saying that this was the right time for the union to demand for workers’ rights since the general election was just around the corner.