"We eat whatever we can get. Roots if available. We beg. We steal. We don't have a daughter. If we do have a daughter we can sell her," said the first paragraph on page 107 of the 2010 student's edition of 'Interlok' published by the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
It was said by Cing Huat, a Chinese character in the novel written by national laureate Abdullah Hussain, when asked by his wife what they were going to eat in their journey to another city in their search of a better life.
Appealing to all MCA and other Chinese leaders to read the book and that passage and others like it, National Interlok Action Team (Niat) questioned their silence over the matter.
"I ask MCA president Chua Soi Lek, since his party represents the Chinese. Do you agree with this statement?" asked Niat chairperson Tasleem Mohamed Bin Ibrahim (left) rhetorically during a press conference at Little India in Brickfields Kuala Lumpur, today.
The paragraph, they believe, degrades the Chinese community and portrays them as people willing to do anything for a quick buck.
They contend that there are many other entries that also degrades Chinese and Malays, as well as Indians in the book which they want removed from the high school syllabus.
The initial concern by Indian NGOs with the book is its description of Indians of Malaysia as from the lower caste as well as its stereotyping the race in certain aspects.
Some find this derogatory and contrary to the Indian Diaspora's 150-year fight to eradicate the caste system which discriminates on birth.
"We as Indians felt insulted when we read about our Chinese brothers being described as such," said Hindu Sangam deputy president M Bala.
He is joined by Tasleem Mohamed who added that there may be other passages in the book that may degrade the Malays as well.
"I have instructed my researcher to read the book and find passages that may have degraded the Malays and point it out," he said.
In a show of ecumenical unity all major three faiths practiced by the Indians was represented at today's fast ceremony.
Tasleem Mohamed represented the Indian Muslims, Hindu Sangam the Hindus and Reverend Henry Sandanam of the Association of Tamil Pastors and Christians Fellowship of Malaysia represented the Christians.
The group reiterated their call for the book to be removed from the school syllabus and from the impressionable minds of teens, but saw no problem with what they believe is a work of literature, from being sold in stores or read by more mature minds.
The movement which represents about 150 Indian NGOs is holding a peaceful fast in the middle of Little India which also doubles as a campaign to gather signatures to protest against Interlok in high school syllabus.
A line of Indians was observed waiting to sign the memorandum which the group will pass on to Indian ministers or their representatives from the government at 2pm today.
Federal Territories Deputy Minister M Saravanan has confirmed his attendance along with a representative from the PPP, while others from MIC and the Prime Minister's Office have yet to do so.
You must agree this is not a very nice thing to say that we will sell our daughters even under dire situations.