Dear Esteemed Malaysians,
I am not sure if you have been following this issue which is not only causing concern amongst many Malaysians but it also has the potential to poison young minds through its insidious and divisive racial stereotyping and messages.
I feel that, purely on educational and pedagogical grounds, this book with its denigration of the various communities, and in the context of our multi-ethnic society facing one of the most turbulent periods of our history, should be subject to higher standards of acceptance before being designated as a reading text in our schools.
This is not to challenge the artistic freedom and independence of the writer in pursuing his craft and writing on any subject that he chooses. In our country there is a need for greater candor and honesty on all types of divisive issues, however sensitive there are.
Writers and artists should be encouraged to write freely and without any restrictions; and all Malaysians should work harder to dismantle the constraints on our freedom of expression and other freedoms.
The concern over the 'Interlok' book is not about restricting the writer's freedom of expression or about its literary merits but it is about its harmful impact on young and impressionable minds in the context of our nation-building and 1Malaysia objectives.
I urge you (and other concerned Malaysians) to read the book and arrive at your own conclusion as to the desirability of retaining the book as a required literature text.
I, and many Malaysians, am of the opinion that the book should be withdrawn as a school text.
As the print media has not given sufficient coverage to the many critics of the book, I urge you - before you arrive at your own conclusion - to also take time in reading the analysis of the book and other feedback provided by concerned citizens.
The following are some of the critical feedback to date that will be useful:
The writer is executive director of the Centre for Policy Initiatives.