Interlok is a historical novel authored by national laureate (Sasterawan Negara) Datuk Abdullah Hussain. It is selected to be used as part of the literature component of the Bahasa Malaysia subject for Form Five. It becomes controversial when certain members of our society judged it sensitive to the Indians of Malaysia.
I have read that novel many times and I did not see Interlok insulting or humiliate the Indians of Malaysia. What I see is that Maniam, who came from a village in Tricur, Kerala, India sailed from Nagapatam to Penang to seek for green pasture. As Maniam worked in rubber estates in Malaya, he was faced with challenges among his countrymen. Nevertheless, Maniam helped the Seman's family and the family of Cing Huat. Hence the spirit of 1Malaysia did happen long before Malaya achieved its independence.
Certain words in that novel has been removed and replaced just to satisfy the thinking of those who do not really understand what literature is. As a Malay and a Muslim, if I am to say that Interlok is humilate the Malays and the Muslims, yes, if you read on page 43 of Interlok (Tetapi orang Melayu buat apa sekolah. Mengaji Quran sudah. Tahu sembayang, tahu baca doa sedikit, cukup untuk bekalan, fikir Pak Musa). But as an educated Malaysian, I take it positively because that was the indoctrinaion of the colonial government to see that the Malays stay as farmers and fishermen forever. That was the happening of the past which we should take it as knowledge.
I salute Datuk Abdullah Hussain for writing such a good and historical novel that pictured the senario in Malaya, Penang and Singapore for the post independence Malaysians including me to know the past. Hence, The Ministry of Education should let our students read and learn about the spirit of 1 Malaysia in Interlok. Remember, now we are educated Malaysians and we must see the past not just by reading the history books but creative writings by writers who did much researches. Interlok must stay.