JUNE 19 ― Ask anyone who has ever done their undergraduate degree in Malaysian public universities and quite a few of them will tell you how they were forced to attend and endure the Biro Tatanegara courses.
Each year, hundreds of students join civil servants from various departments, ministries and institutions to be indoctrinated or brainwashed into becoming unthinking, obedient and compliant drones whose allegiance is arguably not towards God, King and Country but more likely leaning towards Umno, Melayu and of course, Umno.
What they often produce instead each year are groups of people who are often embarrassed, cynical and frustrated listening to a bumbling group of individuals who have no business being instructors of anything other than potty training.
Many former attendees admit to being shocked and mortified at the content of these courses which are often unashamedly racist, bigoted, and ignorant and Malay Muslim supremacist in nature. The thing is the attendees are often multi-ethnic and reflect the rich diversity of Malaysian society.
Instead of fulfilling its stated aims which are to nurture the spirit of patriotism and commitment to excellence and good values among Malaysians, and to train leaders and future leaders to support the nation's development efforts, this government agency which exists under the Prime Minister’s Department has for decades promoted racial and religious discrimination and divisiveness.
In its programming, the BTN has cultivated concepts such as "pendatang" and “Ketuanan Melayu” which run contrary to the values and ideals of the Federal Constitution.
It has been used to stir up animosity and hatred towards those who think differently from the government and oppose the status quo. They have promoted belief that if you are not in support of the government, therefore you are being disloyal to the country.
While so many have been picked up for alleged and imagined offenses which are supposedly seditious in nature, this lot have been able to operate and spread their views through the cover of government national civics courses which are anything but.
As can be seen from recent documentation from the BTN itself, they are even trying to justify the practice of racism as something good for the country. Not too long ago, Malaysia stood by Nelson Mandela’s struggle and together with the countries of the world spoke out and condemned the ultimate expression of racism, apartheid. Today, these people are trying to justify and legitimise institutionalised racism in our country. This is how far these people have lost their way.
These are scared and ignorant people who jump at shadows and create enemies where there are none. In their arrogance, they refuse to learn from others. They expect people to obey and not to think and argue. In time honoured tradition, they even consider writers, book publishers and even books themselves as threats. Tyrants fear the power of the written word.
I can’t believe that such a Bureau continues to exist under the direct aegis of the Prime Minister’s Department and whose staff and activities are paid for in the millions each year by the Malaysian taxpayer.
The continued existence of the Biro Tatanegara is an affront to Malaysians everywhere. It dishonours the memory of the founders of this country, the women and men who fought and died to gain independence. It besmirches the struggles of all those who believe that there is a place for all under the Malaysian sun. It directly contradicts and works in opposition to the ideals espoused under the Rukun Negara. Based on its actions and words, it certainly cannot be said to support Vision 2020 or even 1Malaysia.
One thing that I am glad about though. It is very clear that these people of the BTN do not speak for us. That their bigoted, hateful and prejudicial views are rejected by most Malaysians. The recent outcry against their “programming” is proof enough that there is no place in a modern Malaysia for cultivating such beliefs and views.
Let us end these attempts which work at cross purposes to nation building. Let us call for the dissolution of the Biro Tatanegara. Let not another day go by that the money from the sweat and tears of all Malaysians is used for such purposes.
Shut down the BTN.
*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.