Malaysia to drop word 'pariah' from Malay novel

The decision in this regard was taken after a panel set by the government went through 106 amendment proposals suggested by the minority community and whittled it down to 19 after deciding to change a few other words.

Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin told parliament that his ministry now considered the issue closed.Muhyiddin said the word "pariah" has now been replaced with "golongan yang sama" (the same group).

Pariah was among several other references deemed offencive by the Indian community which has been excised from the book to be used as senior school Malay literature text.
Muhyiddin said a panel formed to study the objections raised by the Indian community had also gone through a total of 106 amendment proposals to the school version of the novel.

But it was whittled down to 19 issues that the panel deemed related to the sensitivities of the Indian community.

He said of the 19 issues, three were considered solved with the omission of the word 'pariah' from the novel.

A section of the local ethnic Indian community had said the word pariah denoted a caste system which it claimed did not exist in Malaysia.

The Malay novel "Interlok" is about the early days of Malaya when the three races - the Malays, the ethnic Chinese and the ethnic Indians - try to ike out a living.

The novel stirred a controversy after several ethnic Indians including the Malaysian Indian Congress, the country's largest ethnic Indian political party, found several objections in the text. The government had set up the panel with some representatives of the MIC too on board.

A few days ago the three men from MIC in the panel said they would quit the discussions as their proposals were not being considered.

The education minister said the panel ruled that three other issues - the fact that Hindus revere the cow as a holy animal, the safety of Maniam's wife (a character in the book) in India and the description of an Indian wedding as tedious - did not touch on the community's sensitivities.

Seven other issues were marked with errata for editing or omission and six more issues raised were solved by changing terms and dropping phrases, he said, adding the a glossary will be included in the book to explain various phrases and concepts in the novel

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