Interlok: Everybody should just read the damn book!

UPDATED: ‘Why are some Indians so sensitive?’ asks Cambridge PhD

By Sharifuddin A Latiff

News flash: ‘HRP leaders arrested at anti-Interlok forum‘. Among those arrested include HRP president W Sambulingam. There have been scores of arrests of Hindraf guys over the past week.

Why are the authorities clamping down so hard on a forum that merely informs the public about the contents of the highly offensive novel ‘Interlok’? Since when has attending an indoor forum become a crime?

Indeed, ‘Interlok’ is a book that should be read by all concerned Malaysians. Adults, that is.

Anyone claiming to support 1Malaysia or claiming to be Malaysian First should read this sick book written by a shallow mind.

You need to read for yourself to know the stereotypical prejudices of an ignorant Malay view of other races who share our living space. And this narrow, bogeyman worldview is being shoved down the throats of 16-year-old schoolboys and schoolgirls who are taking the Sastera subject.

If we want to promote inclusion — hidup rukun dan damai — this book is not the vehicle to foster semangat muhibbah.

Below are some of the misrepresentations found in ‘Interlok’. We’ve excepted from an article in FMT titled ‘Fakta Interlok edisi murid banyak mengelirukan‘.

‘One factual error already known to the public is the mention of the Pariah and Brahma (sic) castes — which don’t exist.’

“Kamus Dewan (dictionary published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka) defines ‘caste’ as the classification of people according to categories, that is, Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra. According to [one of the speakers from Kumpulan Penulis Kavyan at a forum], the name ‘Brahma’ on the other hand refers to a god in the Hindu religion.

[Other errors in Interlok]

  • Malabar and Kerala were referred to in the novel as two separate places whereas Malabar is actually the old name for Kerala state. The author Abdullah Hussain places Kerala geographically as a state “a little to the north of Tamil Nadu when the atlas shows that Kerala lies to the north of Andhra Pradesh. Kerala is also pictured as filled with paddy fields when it is better known for its coconut trees.
  • Abdullah’s explanation of the Kathakali dance is also incorrect as he had said the dancers used masks when in fact they use ‘make-up’.
  • The book also pictures the Indian community in Penang as being 50 percent Malayali and the remaining half Tamil and Telugu when in fact 80 percent of the Indians at that time were Tamils.
  • The character of Malini calls her husband Maniam by his personal name whereas women of that period would never do that (as it’s not the culture to do so).
  • Malini calls her father Perumal ‘papa’ and not ‘appa’ (the Indian term). Other misses on cultural nuances include when the character of Mariama is said to be ‘single’ (membujang) after the death of her husband when the more appropriate word is ‘widow‘ (balu).
  • In the book Maniam is said to have come alone to Tanah Melayu in 1910 even though the Pengajian Malaysia (Malaysian Studies) states that the inflow of free [not indentured] labour was stymied in 1859 because the travel fare was too expensive.
  • When the character Suppiah prostrated, it was misrepresented as kowtowing to the white man when the act is usually done only as a mark of respect to one’s parents to obtain their blessing.

The above was pointed out in the FMT article. However, the Hartal team will be continuing with our own postings on the ‘Interlok’ topic and how the selection of novel as a national exam text is part of a hidden agenda to promote Biro Tata Negara-like (BTN) objectives.

UPDATED, Hartal Interlok series

RELATED: Ridhuan Tee slams ‘Interlok’ protesters as extremists

17 Responses to “Interlok: Everybody should just read the damn book!”
  1. Paul Warren says:

    Paraian (pronounced pa-rai-an) is a jaathi or cast. Pariah is an adjective personifying an unschooled, uncultured, almost unclean and down in the pits character (but not necessarily a vile or criminal character.) Like for instance, to me, Ibrahim Ali is a pariah and additionally, a vile character. I wouldn’t know if he is criminal although if sedition is criminal then he has many times over been seditious and, therefore, making him criminal, but he could never be a Paraian. Paraians are most definitely far better than him.

    There is now a Tamil serial in one of the Tamil channels on Astro called “Poriki.” Poriki is applied to anyone who picks rubbish of any kind literally speaking. Not exactly complimentary and sometimes applied in anger and in a hostile manner to inflict a demeaning title on someone with every bit of malice intended. It is sometimes also used in endearing ways, usually by an older family member on a young kid. I asked my mum, which of the two words, Poriki or Paraian, when applied to a Tamil adult would invite a slap or a whacking from him. She said Paraian! Why if it is only in reference to a cast? Ah well, apparently when applied in the described circumstances it can become an adjective, like when in London you see a drunken lout and you ask him if he is Irish!!


    There is the contention by the forum speaker that ‘pariah’ is not a caste. Therefore it should be construed as an insult.

  2. temenggong says:

    I pointed out earlier that the fourfold classification of brahmin, kshatriya, vaishya and sudra is simplistic, a usual mistake that even Indian scholars make. The reality is that there are hundreds of single vocation endogamous clans. Each occupation represents a clan, and vice versa, and if there are hundreds of vocations there a hundreds of clans. Thousands actually according to a late 19th century census. At best a single caste clan would have comprised 0.001% of the population, or one in a thousand. How the writer picked up this one caste for his yarn is a wonder.

    But today people freely choose their occupations delivering a death blow to caste. And today most people quite freely marry, even to foreigners, although many still do rely on arranged marriages within the same clans. In Malaysia there would hardly be an Indian extended family that is not mixed somewhere.

    According to British travelers, in 1880 most of the bullock cart drivers (taxi) and boatmen plying the rivers and ports were Indians. These were free workers not under the indentured or kangani system, meaning they came on their own. The indentured system was abolished in 1910 but the Kangani system continued; a supervisor (kangani/mandore) returned back to recruit labour, usually from his own village. Thus it would have been nearly impossible that those of the pariah clan migrated to Malaya, as they lived apart from villages in their own communes.

    The port of embarkation in India was Nagapattinam, Tamilnadu, and it never was in Malabar. The writer did sloppy research before writing the book. I don’t think he was looking for accuracy but Malay chauvinism and contempt.


    Hartal MSM: Correct, Temenggong. Abdullah’s research WAS sloppy. How come none of the Chinese (DAP? MCA?) seems haven’t to have analysed the book yet is beyond us. You’re also correct about its element of Malay chauvinism.

    Watch this space — Hartal will be putting up excerpts from the book.

  3. Sam says:

    Paul W couldn’t have put it more clearly. But Hartalmsm, leave the poor old man alone lah. In his last wheelchair days he is being “re-laureated” (by equally ignorant Perkasa) and FINALLY his books are being sold (to the government). Must be quite a lump of kickbacks (through royalties) after 25years of collecting dust on the bookshelves of MPH?

    Anyway the issue is not the book per se, or the author. Any pariah (whether National laureate or not.) is free to write any piece of shit. That’s literary licence mah? Why, sometime ago one even wrote a book called SHIT (must have sold better than Interlok) that riled the PM but even that book was never banned. The issue should be, how come some poriki decided that this book containing racial slurs, historical inaccuracies and political innuendos, as being suitable for Form Fivers in 1Malaysia? Wouldn’t a short novel on Hang Tuah or even Puteri Gunung Ledang inspire some interesting discussion in the local classroom (I mean M Nasir IS contemporary and Tiara was deeeeeelicious!)?

    The thrust of the protest should be aimed at removing Interlok (and also other rubbish disguised as “sejarah”) from the school syllabus, not from public bookshops.


    Hartal MSM: You’re also correct Sam. Hindraf is not asking for the book to be banned.

    It should rightly, as you say, be removed from the classroom and not imposed on impressionable teenagers who are at the mercy of bigoted teachers (even their principals have made headlines of late) and putting Indian students at risk of being bullied as ‘pariah’ by their classmates.

    See video,

    • infansolaris says:

      Observe the pain and humiliation of this unsuspecting, innocent Indian boy. See how he maintains his amiable grin while humbly and respectfully pleading to the animal, “Tak payah ABANG.” See that grin slowly freeze and the humble expression begin to become clouded by worry. Watch that worry turn to uncertainty, consternation and fear in his eyes in the face of that rabid onslaught of threats. See how he reluctantly capitulates despite his conscience, dignity and pride just so the mad dog doesn’t run amok and ‘terajangs’ him. Behold the underlying humility and preference for avoiding confrontation which has been the trademark of the Malaysian Indian for so long. Consider how his young and innocent heart and mind become hardened and discouraged by racism and of his emotional and psychological scars. Think how his opinion of Malays will forever be changed. Imagine what this will do to our country. I am deeply outraged and angered at this. My heart goes out to this boy and I shed silent tears in my heart for him, his scarred heart, his demeaned dignity and his broken spirit. If I were his father, I’d take him in my arms and comfort him with the hope that his pain, humiliation and memory of this atrocious incident leave him and that his dignity and pride in his culture, religion and ethnicity are restored.

      I guess this is the eventual outcome of the High Court Assistant Registrars decision to support Dewan Bahasa dan Pustakas denial that the term ‘keling’ is discriminatory and derogatory to Indians and High Court Judge Lau Bee Lan’s decision that usage of the word is approved for academic purposes and that DBP was right in carrying out its responsibilities. Very soon, with the advent of Interlok, ‘keling babi’ will be replaced with ‘keling pariah.’ Many young and impressionable minds will be influenced and encouraged by this novel and many more will forever be scarred. Hatred will be irrevocably sown. Frustration and anger will inevitably lead to chaos. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the tragedy called Malaysia.

      • hartalmsm says:

        The boy’s amiability makes the humiliation he’s being subjected to all the more heartbreaking. It is truly dummkopfs who maintain that the book, or any book for that matter, cannot be ‘racist’. There are too many dummkopfs in Malaysia riding their ‘we’re-above-petty-race’ high horses.

  4. Crankster says:

    There is another view on this though:

    Interlok revisited

    • hartalmsm says:


      The blogger that you quote, De Minimis, appears not to have read the book himself as he has to resort to lifting a paean from Raman of Silverfish. Raman on the other hand inserts this caveat: “By some accounts, the version to be used in school is an abridged one (and not the 503-page original). If that is the case then all my comments above could be completely off the mark, because I have no idea what has been taken out and what remains.”

      Raman is indeed “completely off the mark”. Hartal will ref. both versions — edited for school, and the unabridged one.

      Let’s just take one passage that Raman singles out for praise, i.e. that the Malay author is big-hearted because he can bring himself to write this passage: “and sometimes when he saw the (roast) pork hanging with its fatty oil dripping, it would entice him”.

      Here are other descriptions of the same Chinese boy exhibiting greed at meal time: “Waktu makan itu mereka tidak bercakap barang sepatah pun, bubur nasi yang panas dengan wap berkepul-kepul itu ditolak dengan penyepitnya ke mulut dengan gelojoh sekali.” (p.119)

      Throughout the entire book, the Chinese protagonists are described as fat (berjalan terkengkang-kengkang membawa perutnya yang membuyut bagai perempuan bunting sembilan bulan”/p.52, “gemuk sembap”/p.52, “Muka mereka berminyak, semuanya gemuk-gemuk.”/p.127, “… seorang yang gemuk pendek datang menjemput mereka itu.”/p. 140) and greedy (“Apa peduli orang lain. Kita mesti jaga perut kita sendiri./p.120)

      More examples later in our postings proper but do note that the Chinese characters are depicted as prosperous and predatory, in contrast to the suffering Malay hero and his thin (to convey worn out) parents. There are many other negative stereotypes as well like gambling addicts, opium addicts, womanisers, mercenaries, cheaters, habitual liars — the whole gamut of sinners.

      This book is to impress on Chinese and Indians that their forefathers who landed on these shores were the dregs of society — hence the ‘pariah’ word. Guess what job the Chinese protagonist did? Well, you’ll have to wait till our next posting to find out –, for all those who’ve not taken the trouble to read the sickening book for yourselves.

      • Crankster says:

        No, now that I’ve read excerpts of it for myself, it is evident that it is one really nasty piece of literature, no doubt about it. I am so glad I will never have to learn this sort of sh!t in school ever.

  5. telur dua says:

    Of the hundreds of books to choose from they purposely picked ‘Interlok’ which attracts all this controversy. If unity is the aim they this book is doing the exact opposite.

    Are they being evil and mischievious? To back down needs guts and wisdom, ingredients which the powers-that-be does not have.

  6. Junita says:

    you are suggesting “Everybody should just read the damn book!” would make this author earn royalties from the sale of his books. Can someone please download in the internet so that we can access to it without paying for this book. We should not make the author any richer as he is obviously have no respect for the indians in this country and by adding some “sensitive” issues will make the public curious to dig into the contents of the book…. what a marketing gimmick……
    Junita – Yes, read it to know why we are posting articles about Interlok. Did I say buy? As to your suggestion about uploading on the Net, why don’t you do it yourself instead of asking someone else? But if it makes you happy to wait for others to do the job, we’ll be posting excerpts of the offensive passages here in HartalMSM. Come back soon, yer hear – shar101.

    • Crankster says:

      Junita – my sentiments exactly! No sense in making this scumbag richer! I’m going to borrow a copy and then pass it on to anyone else who has to have a go for themselves. It doesn’t sound exciting enough to want to finish anyway.

      I’m even ready for my exams! The conclusion so far:
      1. Chinese are fat and greedy
      2. Malays are always crying

  7. telur dua says:

    A friend offered a good analogy.

    Reading this book as Sastera Melayu in schools is like prescribing laxative to a patient suffering from diarrhoea. What little unity taht is left between the major races will vanish i.e. the patient will die faster.


    Hartal MSM: Good analogy. You got a smart friend. Unfortunately, too many remain dummkopfs.

  8. Paul Warren says:

    That boy in the video made to say Keling babi; I saw him to be smiling stupidly at the bullies who might just be friends of his. Had they been total strangers there would have been greater fear reflected in his face. I did not see fear on his face.

  9. DR.Farid says:

    This is real shame,i originates from india and faced too much propblems of racism till i decide now to move away..i dont want my children to go thru this shit agenda.This is inhumane.If i were in this guy show i would break all 264 bones of the person who forced this innocent boy to speak Keling babi…I really feel pity for this boy.

  10. What a shame unable to solve simple word which cost our unity among raceses


    Hartal MSM: The controversy has been misrepresented as the Indians being overly sensitive over the ‘pariah’ word. That’s only a small corner of the whole picture.

    ‘Interlok’ is nothing short of a BTN propaganda tool to demean the Chinese and Indians, exalt the Malays, and for Ketuanan to put the minorities in their subordinate place.

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