What happened to abolishing BTN, ask PKR reps

National Civics Bureau director-general Ibrahim Saad with other BTN employees at an event last year. PH lawmakers say bodies like the BTN are unnecessary in the 21st century. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: PKR lawmakers have questioned Putrajaya’s move to retain the controversial National Civics Bureau (BTN), calling it disappointing.

The representatives said they saw no reason for the BTN to be kept and rebranded, adding that it should instead be completely abolished.

Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.

Setiawangsa MP Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said the BTN had had a highly negative impact, reiterating a concern raised numerous times by Pakatan Harapan (PH) politicians and media and civil society stakeholders.

“It has become a tool for political propaganda as well as for inciting hatred and fear among the different racial and religious groups,” he said on Twitter.

Adding that PH had committed in its election manifesto to abolishing the BTN, he said Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman had on July 9 said it would be abolished as well.

Nik Nazmi was responding to comments by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Farid Md Rafik that the BTN modules would be fine-tuned and rebranded.

The PKR Youth leader said he did not doubt that Farid believed in good faith that this could be done. However, he noted that similar promises had been made in the past without any impact.

“PH leaders must realise that the coalition was voted into government to reform Malaysia. Reform must also include the political sphere – indeed, all other changes will fail without it,” he said.

Nik Nazmi also said a body like the BTN was unnecessary in the 21st century.

“Abolishing it can be done without infringing on anyone’s rights or interests. Full-time BTN employees can be transferred to other departments.

“All that matters is whether the government has the political will to do so.”

Gooi Hsiao Leung.

Meanwhile, Penang lawmaker Gooi Hsiao Leung who has been vocal against retaining the BTN said his stance had not changed.

He told FMT that there were no details offered on the kind of rebranding that would take place within the modules.

“There is no justification whatsoever to retain this brainwashing tool. It should go, period.

“We don’t need a body like BTN to instruct the public on what unity or patriotism is all about. It is a waste of public funds,” he said.

The Bukit Tengah assemblyman said there were easier ways to foster national unity, which could be done by ensuring that all government policies and laws treat everyone equally and fairly.

“I fully support Nik Nazmi’s views on this issue. But going further, I hope PKR will take the lead in ensuring that the BTN is terminated and buried forever.

“The PH government must carry out the mandate given to us to abolish the BTN as promised in our manifesto,” he added.