KUALA LUMPUR: Suaram has called on the new government to dissolve the Biro Tata Negara (National Civics Bureau or BTN) under the Prime Minister’s Department as it is a hindrance to national unity and critical thinking.
Suaram adviser Kua Kia Soong said in a statement today that through the years, BTN’s programmes had been reported to have explicitly promoted ketuanan Melayu (Malay dominance) and were unabashedly partisan to the then governing Barisan Nasional.
“In 2009, the Selangor and Penang state governments even prohibited their state civil servants, employees of state subsidiaries, and students at state-owned institutions from attending BTN courses because they were seen as racist indoctrination.”
Saying he was heartened to see the process of trimming the fat of the administration and the efforts to rejuvenate the education system being undertaken, Kua said the BTN should be “excised” because, from recent controversies and exposes, the BTN was “anathema to the need to nurture critical and creative thinking among Malaysians”.
The BTN was set up purportedly “to nurture the spirit of patriotism and commitment to excellence among Malaysians, and train leaders and future leaders to support the nation’s development efforts”.
However, Kua said, for years under the New Economic Policy, “it has been an open secret that Malay students and civil servants had to go through ‘indoctrination’ sessions by the BTN”.
He said: “In late 2009, many allegations of racism and political propaganda surfaced in the online press. Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, assemblyman for Seri Setia in the State Legislative Assembly of Selangor, claimed that the BTN camp he attended was ‘racial and political in nature,’ with trainers telling attendees that Malays require affirmative action and criticising the opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) as ‘deviationist’.
“Amirudin Shari, assemblyman for Batu Caves, claimed that ‘participants are indoctrinated with propaganda about ketuanan Melayu and external threats’. Another participant claimed he was taught that the Chinese were ‘the Jews of Asia,’ and part of a conspiracy to topple the government.”
Kua said during an altercation between critics and defenders of BTN, then minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz had interjected to say: “Don’t think that people outside do not know about the syllabus based on patriotism for Malays… They know what the syllabus is all about so who are we to say that it did not happen? You want to lie? You make people laugh.
“I mean there are people who attended the courses who came out very angry. There were many instances of the use of words like ketuanan Melayu. It is ridiculous… Do they want to say that Malaysia belongs only to the Malays and the government is only a Malay government? Should only the Malays be given the spirit of patriotism? Other races are not patriotic about their country?”