Book row: Malaysian government to talk to MIC leaders

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysian government will talk to Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) leaders this week to resolve the controversy over a school text book that has references to the caste system among the Hindus, a minister said.

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said Monday that he has a formula to resolve the issue and will hold discussions with MIC leaders on the matter in a day or two.

He said he would meet MIC deputy president S. Subramaniam, who is also the country’s human resource minister, and later MIC president G. Palanivel to discuss the matter.

Palanivel expressed confidence that the issue would be resolved soon.

He said he had been keeping Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak informed of the matter.

A bulk of the 2.1 million ethnic Indians settled in Malaysia are Tamil Hindus.

MIC, the country’s largest Indian-based party has taken exception to references in “Interlock”, a compulsory reading for Form Five students, saying it does not reflect the present-day reality among the ethnic Indians.

It has objected to the term ‘pariah’, and sought the books’s withdrawal, or at least deletion of offending references.

Some groups publicly burnt copies of the book.

Yassin invoked the “Barisan spirit”, referring to the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional, of which the MIC is a leading constituent.

“In the Barisan Nasional spirit, we want to discuss with the MIC, and I believe the formula will be delved into in a day or two.

“I hope that once a decision has been made, the issue will not be raised again because of more importance is the spirit of cooperation in the context of the Barisan,” he was quoted as saying by The Star.

Yassin, who is also education minister, said the government was considering the best approach to resolve it.

Filed under: Politics

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