Interlok – When a language lesson isn’t about language

by Eyes Wide Open

Literature is indeed an excellent subject to help students develop communication skills, creative expression, critical thinking skills and appreciation of culture. Most of all, teaching literature should be about teaching the student to enjoy reading for himself/herself, so that through books he/she can gain an knowledge about things in the world-at-large.

Interlok was selected as the text for the compulsory literature component of the SPM Bahasa Melayu paper. However, it seems that Interlok has now been elevated to the status of race relations handbook. This can be seen in the various statements made by the literatithink tanks and the author himself.

Our own Education Ministry study guide seems to hint that this is exactly the ‘mission’ that has been assigned to Interlok, given its potential to mind-bend the way youths view their own race and their assigned place in the societal hierarchy.

It is clear that there is a quiet, unwritten acceptance that Interlok is an accurate roadmap for Malaysian race relations that must be taught to SPM students.

Missing The Forest For The Trees

Many people have argued that people should not be so sensitive, and that they should give Interlok as chance, that opinions that Interlok is being used as a political/racial indoctrination tool is just pure fantasy. We say, these people have not appreciated the scope of the issue at hand – this is a NATIONAL issue that affects every SPM student and their families.

But rather than present another lengthy argument against the use of Interlok in schools, we’ll let the cold, hard facts speak for themselves.

Hopefully, the facts and documentary evidence we present today will put all other arguments and conjectures to rest once and for all.

HartalMSM has managed to obtain a copy of a classroom lesson plan, designed and prescribed by the Education Ministry’s Bahagian Pembangunan Kurikulum – BPK (Curriculum Development Section). We present excerpts of it here. See for yourself whether it is really the government’s intention to indoctrinate students via the study of Interlok.

Below are excerpts of a classroom lesson plan for Interlok:



At the end of the lesson, the student can :
i. State at least three social settings for each book.
ii. Provide appropriate examples for the social settings presented.
iii. Present the selected excerpts of the novel with correct pronunciation and intonation.

So the Ministry’s intended result is for students to memorise the “social settings” of each race as exemplified in the selected excerpts. At this point, it may begin to smell suspicious to those who are quicker on the uptake. But anyone still entertaining optimistic thoughts that Interlok is really meant to teach students literature should quickly abandon all hope. The political indoctrination agenda becomes quickly apparent as the lesson plan progresses.

Blatant Political Indoctrination In Classrooms


STEP: Induction Set

Teaching and learning activity
– Teacher to display 1 Malaysia logo.
– Students to be asked to state their opinions of the logo.
– Students to be asked to interpret the 1 Malaysia logo and teacher to connect it to the day’s lesson

Isn’t the point of a language lesson to teach language? Why are students in a classroom being asked to  study a political slogan. What does it have to do with literature? Since when did language / literature textbooks become political education tools?

It is patently obvious that the real intention of the lesson plan is anything BUT literature! In reality, it looks like it has been designed to drill the officially-sanctioned mode of race relations into students, just like what the next section reveals:


STEP 1 – Social Setting of Each Book

Teaching and learning activity
– Students to be divided into four groups and each group is given an card with instruction.
– Students asked to read and and appreciate the given excerpts, to be presented again in storytelling format.
– A representative from each group to read excerpts from the novel found in the instruction cards with appropriate style and intonation to demonstrate the social setting found in the excerpts of the novel.

And just what are students expected to “read and appreciate”? Here are a sampling of the various excerpts that students have to discuss for the classroom activities above:

Depicting Malay society

Excerpts from Buku 1 to be read by students in class:

– Ibu Seman mundur sedikit member jalan kepada dukun ituu. Kemudian dia membawanya ke dekat suaminya yang sedang terbaring seperti mayat. (Topic: Pak Musa is terminally ill, but being an ignorant villager, visits a shaman instead of a hospital)

– “Ada. Kopiah  merah  juga akan kubelikan,” jawabnya dengan senyum melebar. (Topic: Despite his poor health, Pak Musa is in good spirits, naively thinking his family would be well taken care of with the money he got from Cing Huat)

– Berita  kematian Pak Musa itu dalam sekejap masa  saja berkocak mengganggu ketenangan waktu subuh. (Topic: Pak Musa suddenly dies, setting the stage for Cing Huat to appear later to seize all his properties and evict his family like mangy dogs.)

Depicting Chinese society

Excerpts from Buku 2 to be read by students in class:

– “Ah,  tak usah lu khuatir. Dia sudah bagus kerja sini, itu tauke bilang Cing Huat banyak rajin; dan kalau lu mahu jual dia mahu beli.” Paman Kok Leng tersenyum lebar. (Topic: Child slave trade / parents selling children is common practise among the Chinese.)

– Untuk mencari wang mereka berlumba-lumba supaya boleh dapat lebih banyak, tetapi untuk mengeluarkan wang seperti berderma mereka berusaha supaya dapat memberikan seberapa yang sedikit. (Topic: The typical Chinese are aggressive economic predators, with little social concerns)

Depicting Indian society

Excerpts from Buku 3 to be read by students in class:

– Adakah ini fitnah? Adakah orang ini sengaja mahu memburuk-burukkan Maniam? (Topic: Indians are big gossips and slanderers.)

– Masyarakat kebun itu gempar. Beberapa orang kuli lelaki ikut Perumal mengejar Maniam. Tetapi Maniam tidak peduli, dia sudah mabuk seperti babi gila. (Topic: Indians are irrational and violent people)

– Anak-anak kita mesti diajar bahasa dan kebudayaan kita. Mereka mesti kita beritau tentang negeri dan bangsa kita. (Topic: Tamil vernacular schools exist to teach Indian children to love Indian culture, not because there was no other education option for them.)

How Fun Is This So Far?

I can hear some people still stubbornly shaking their heads and insisting that everything being said here is wild, unsubstantiated conjecture. Well, here’s a screenshot that shows the teacher’s copy of the worksheet for the Indian Social Setting excerpt that students must answer in the classroom:

Screenshot of actual sample worksheet prepared by Education Ministry to be used in the classroom. Notice the kind of racial stereotypes being force-fed into students' minds?

Here’s another screenshot of another worksheet that students have to do, complete with sample answers for the teacher. Notice the development of a palpable narrative as the excerpts progress down the worksheet: the Malays are devout people > the Chinese are bigoted against the innocent, devout Malays > yet the Malays still save the Chinese’s lives (despite the fact that they were swindled out of all they owned by the Chinese). And notice the use of the word “masyarakat” (society) and not “individu” or “watak” (individual or character). The characteristics of a single character in the novel is being imprinted upon the entire societies.

The selected excerpts provide a not-so-subtle narrative that bears striking resemblance to the BTN's doctrine of Malay generosity despite their victimisation at the hands of the Chinese. Coincidence?

I can’t imagine what the students will feel about themselves and each other when such racist narratives are reiterated week after week during Interlok lessons.

Let’s not forget also that in the lesson plan, students are also required to present the excerpts in a storytelling format, complete with “appropriate style and intonation” – which we take to mean that students have to put on their best pakcik, apek or aneh accents when they tell the stories of how helpless the Malays are, how heartless the Chinese are and how heedless the Indians are. We can imagine the kids’ embarrassed laughter at their own exaggerated attempts to sound “authentic” to the “social settings”.

I’m sure the Ministry thinks that’s worth a whole barrel of hoots! Perhaps almost as much fun as the cartoon of Ultraman running away from a killer tsunami that killed thousands of sepets.

But for the rest of us here, it is with utter disbelief that we read that among the focus of the lesson are:

– Menyatakan perasaan secara berterus-terang dan beradab tentang sesuatu perkara untuk mengekalkan hubungan.
– Aras 3(i)Mengemukakan kritikan membina yang    mengambil kira  sensitiviti orang lain.

– (Enable students) to express their feelings about something frankly and politely in order to maintain relationships.
– Present constructive criticism that takes into account others’ sensitivities.

We find it extremely ironic and laughable that the government states this as a desired result in the classroom, when the Ministry’s lesson plan forces students to reinforce negative racial stereotypes, absorb racial / political indoctrination, and laugh at each other’s fake, stereotypical accents for 80 minutes. And there is no way for students and teachers to escape this humiliation – teachers MUST use the Ministry’s Interlok study materials as exam questions will be taken from there.

Interlok – ALL Parents Need To Protest

See how Interlok is used to insult with its shameless endorsement of derogatory racial stereotypes, for its insidious peddling of dangerous racial doctrines, for its indoctrination of impressionable young minds, and most of all, for its arrogance that parents and students have no say about what values they can be taught.

People really need to realise that Interlok is not an Indian issue, it’s not about whether a book is good enough to be used in schools, it’s not about race sensitivities or factual errors. The racist lesson plans is an affront to ALL peace-loving Malaysians.

And the government’s insistence on making Interlok compulsory in schools makes it a NATIONAL issue affecting every family in Malaysia. If today, a book like Interlok is allowed to be used as compulsory indoctrination in schools, it gives the government permission to repeat the formula in other places and times.

All parents, regardless of race, need to repel this attempt to poison ever younger minds against each other.

Say ‘No’ to the indoctrination of our youth! Because your next generation will reap what is being sown today.

As such, we ALL need to stand up and demand that such insidious  indoctrination be thrown out of schools!

12 Responses to “Interlok – When a language lesson isn’t about language”
  1. hartalmsm says:

    Wee Choo Keong posed a good question yesterday in Parliament to Muhyiddin. He wanted to know the minimum mark for a pass and the mark to secure Grade A in every subject in the PMR & SPM exams.

    There are MPs so don’t even turn up for the sessions in the House, much less ask sharp questions. Whatever the mindless BN bashers, like constipated parrots, have to squawk about “frogs”, at least in this respect WCK is doing his job. Story here,

  2. Ruth says:

    Interlok is not simply about people’s sensivities .It is about stereo types, and indoctorination of young minds particularly muslim children. it is also about generalisations and erroneous data.. How can anyone even conceive of 1 Malaysia when the education system is preaching race politics , the politics of hate. It is as if they are the only ones with a perogative to hate, can hate or maim .. Such arrogance of these people. It is about a group of people who we have trusted , sometimes befriended, loved , and lived with as fellow citizens. They who have been silently walking on us in supremacy , in superiority like the pig Napolean in animal farm , that after we have ousted the white colonisers. It is so ironic , that 53 years of affirmative action in their favour has not satisfied their greed for power, wealth or position . Can anyone from this group be befriended or trusted again? Is it posssible.?

    • Sheema says:

      Wow Ruth, thanks a lot for stereotyping an entire group of people and lumping us all together as one. By doing so you are no better than the people you have been criticising.

  3. Ruth says:

    Race relations thats a joke is it not? Eat halal , you must or you eat not . In this hell hole, a non muslim of another religion can suffer multiple upon multiple discrimination in all areas . Hang on can’t even get a decent non halal place to eat. Even Kentucky fried chicken has gone halal with the all covered hype called scarf.. What a lot of bigotry , but if you protest peacefully for your rights , as a hindu, Indian or any other minority you could find yourself jailed indefinitely. You are deemed unsavory: as how dare you question our right to have it all and bar you your basic rights. We dont discern if you are just a babe, the police will be called for justice , theirs will be served. Rights for children , whats that if they are Indian children and whats more especially if they are non muslim? . The police and the ruling group must feel macho. – so superior truly.

    • hindutomuslim says:

      don’t ever use harsh words against Muslim, if you don’t have any intention to do it. We, as Muslim are fully aware about other religions and respect the followers. Please respect other if you want to be respected. Verily, if you want to consume non-halal food, there are so many places/restaurants serving non halal meat. Many hindu restaurants are hiding behind mamak’s title. So, we’re fully aware about that but we don’t ever scolding you blatantly.

  4. Kalidas says:

    Muhyiddin should be ashamed for being a Minister who insist that Interlok would not be withdrawn, such an errorous novel for the young mind. Is this the kind of government leaders that we want now or in the future. why is it so difficult to withdraw the book from school, no one is asking it to be banned. simple request seems to be difficult to the so called education minister to understand. What nation building is he talking about? Utter rubbish!

  5. barisan neraka says:

    Thanks for this irrefutable expose of the monsters destroying our country.

    Stupidity, superstition, bigotry, paranoia, laziness and jealousy can only breed more of the same.

  6. Yeah says:

    People should be provided with the original document and read for themselves. You can choose positive stereotypes or negative stereotypes, and the stereotyping itself is the subject of discussion. Examine the focus of the proposed teaching module. Yeah, changing cakap ajuk to cakap pindah is not about language, identifying and understanding a text’s description is not about language, reading, speaking and intonation is not about language – that’s hartalmsm’s paranoia for you.

    Have fun with the echo chamber tonight at the Chinese Assembly Hall.

    Click to access modul-pengajaran-komsas-novel-interlok.pdf

    Funny what a commentator said aptly describes hartalmsm’s efforts to continue defame Interlok.

    “Stupidity, superstition, bigotry, paranoia, laziness and jealousy can only breed more of the same.” ~ Barisan Neraka


    Thanks for the link, Yeah!

    I’m sure people will be able to draw their own conclusions after looking at the originals. Though, I doubt they can be as accepting as you of the indoctrination sections, despite the few sections that do focus on language. But then again, you got to know the language to understand the message, doncha? Mesti pandai baca yang tersurat supaya pandai mendalami yang tersirat, kan?

    Besides, even BTN’s most blatantly racist indoctrination courses are camouflaged as “Nationhood” and “Patriotism” modules. Surely you can’t smuggle indoctrinations into a BM lesson without some semblance of a BM lesson? Or isn’t that the way it works in the Universe of Yeah?

    “Examine the focus of the proposed teaching module.”

    Sure! Here it is:

    Pada akhir pelajaran, murid dapat :
    i. Menyatakan sekurang-kurangnya tiga latar masyarakat bagi setiap buku.
    ii. Mengemukakan contoh yang sesuai dengan latar masyarakat yang ikemukakan.
    iii. Menyampaikan cerita berdasarkan petikan terpilih dalam novel dengan sebutan dan intonasi yang betul.

    Primary objectives: identify at least 3 social settings of EACH BOOK, including examples – that’s 12 in total! And from the above article, you can clearly see where all THAT is going. Or can’t you?

    By the way, are you coming tonight? Here’s a golden opportunity for you to rebut everyone on the panel with your hyper-convincing and airtight points! Your UPM colleague – Dr Chong Fah Hing – supposed to be a panelist as well. – EWO

  7. Yeah says:

    Sayang, itu objektif modul pengajaran (closer to teaching outcomes)… I know that the Malay language is not your strong point, but the main focus (see fokus utama) is to review the work of literature from its characters and characterization, background, plot (device), stylistics and perspectives. It has a level 3 focus to analyze the strength and weaknesses of the literary work.

    Mengulas karya sastera dari aspek watak dan perwatakan,latar, plot, gaya bahasa dan sudut pandangan.

    Aras 3 (iii)
    Menganalisis kekuatan dan kelemahan karya.

    Kalau baca yang tersurat pun dah tak pandai…

    I am not acquainted with Dr. Chong, and I am also unaware that he is a writer in the Malay language. But from a cursory check on the background of the panelists (all who have publicly expressed their sentiments on Interlok), it is going to be a very exciting echo chamber.

    I am sure it will be well attended, just like the successful NIAT ahimsa events nationwide recently. All it needs now is just political will. Since you are well aligned with the effort to oust Interlok from the classrooms, do smooth out your wrinkles with the others who cannot seem to agree on the raison d’etre for its removal. Perhaps after you guys compare your notes and work out some compromise, and when you all get your story straight, a united front transcending sectarian interests can be formed.

    Good luck.


    Sigh…more obfuscation?

    Mengulas karya sastera dari aspek watak dan perwatakan,latar, plot, gaya bahasa dan sudut pandangan.

    What is the purpose of an exercise’s focus? It is to ensure that the objectives are achieved, isn’t it? Or do you really expect people to believe that a lesson’s focus and objectives are completely different things and totally unrelated to each other? Come on…we’re not as stupid and uneducated as you think la, sweetie…

    Aras 3 (iii)
    Menganalisis kekuatan dan kelemahan karya.

    Well, according to Interlok’s powerful supporters, including the DPM/Edu Minister himself, the novel has ZERO weaknesses because it is based on historical facts, relevant to today’s society, written by a National Laureate. etc. I doubt many school children and teachers will dare to have a different opinion as people have been jailed for lesser offences than disagreeing with the DPM.

  8. Jha says:



    Yeah. Please spread the word. – EWO

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] plan designed by the Education Ministry’s curriculum development section]. The Hartal posting ‘When a language lesson isn’t about language’ reveals the Ministry’s insidious pushing of derogatory racial stereotypes in its study guide […]

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