The NGOs and authors, who met with PAS Youth reps, are however divided over the use of Interlok in schools.
The Indian NGOs comprised the Malaysian Indian Voice (MIV) and Malaysian Indian Movement, while the authors were represented by Seniman Paksi Rakyat Malaysia (Paksi) and Budayawan Bertindak.
“It is improper to defile the literary work without a proper discussion with the parties involved,” PAS Youth information chief Suhaizan Kayat told reporters after the groups met yesterday evening.
On Jan 6, about 100 protesters in Klang torched copies of the book in a move to force the government to retract the novel from the school syllabus.
However, Suhaizan added that the meeting failed to reach any resolution on whether the book should be retained or scrapped from the syllabus.
“While the Indian NGOs want the book retracted due to sensitive words, the authors’ associations insist that it can still be used in schools,” he said, adding that some of the panelists themselves have not read the novel.
Therefore, another meeting will be held on Jan 19 in order to reach a clear resolution over the matter.
“We expect the panelists to study the book by next week and come up with some working papers. Hopefully, we can reach a solution then,” said Suhaizan.
Don’t exploit the issue
The PAS Youth information chief also expressed concern over several irresponsible quarters who are trying to exploit the situation for their own agenda.
“These people are fanning this issue out of proportion for their own political mileage,” he said, without mentioning names.
PAS supporters club deputy chief N Balasubramaniam, who was also present, said although the Indian NGOs wanted Interlok removed, they however respected the novel as a valuable literary work.
“That is why we condemn the desecration of the book,” he said.
Meanwhile, Paksi president Shamsudin Othman thanked PAS Youth for arranging the meeting in order to diffuse the tension.
“This proves that we can discuss sensitive issues in a civil manner,” he said.