‘Interlok’ novel not racist, says scholar

BESUT, Jan 10 — The portrayal of the caste system in the novel “Interlok” by national laureate Abdullah Hussein reflects the social reality during the period depicted in the novel, and not a form of insult to any community, an academician said today.

Prof Dr Awang Sariyan, the Malay studies chair at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, China, said the National Laureate had based his work on the social reality of the era depicted in the novel.

“The novel reflects the social reality at that time and it tells the stories of migrations of workers, including from India,” he told Bernama via email.

Awang Sariyan was asked to comment on the controversy surrounding the novel which was made the literature textbook for Form Five studies starting this year.

Several groups claimed that the novel contains elements deemed offensive to the Indian community.

He called for a rational discourse when discussing the text, saying making it a political issue would complicate matters.

Meanwhile, in Kuala Lumpur, Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Nik Hassan Shuhaimi Nik Abdul Rahman, the deputy director of University Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Institute of the Malay World and Civilisation urged politicians and academicians to sit together and discuss the content of novel to dispel any negative perceptions towards it. — Bernama