No hard feelings, BTN boss tells ‘indie’ scene after attack slides leaked

Screen capture shows a slide of the BTN’s Research and Publication Department that listed indie book publishers that it labelled as ‘anti-establishment’.
Screen capture shows a slide of the BTN’s Research and Publication Department that listed indie book publishers that it labelled as ‘anti-establishment’.

KUALA LUMPUR, June 16 ― The National Civics Bureau (BTN) claimed today that leaked presentation slides critical of groups including those in the Malay subculture were meant only for internal “academic discussions”, news portal Astro Awani reported.

In an apparent bid to repair ties with Malay independent (indie) book publishers after tarring them as masterminds of an “anti-establishment” movement, BTN director Datuk Raja Arif Raja Ali said the publishers should not be “slighted” by the slides.

“I don’t know how the material can get circulated and leaked to the public. It was just a discussion module and does not give a negative connotation of indie like it was defined by some parties,” Raja Arif told Awani.

“I want them to not be slighted with the issue. All must be clear about it, it was only a subject of internal academic discussion and I am baffled because it was spread publicly.”

Yesterday, Malay Mail Online reported that independent book publishers have been tarred by the BTN as masterminds of an “anti-establishment” movement to influence youths voting in the 14th general election, in another set of presentation slides.

In the slides, BTN’s Research and Publication Department listed six publishers whom they claimed are the “main players” of the movement, naming Sinaganaga of independent group Sindiket Sol-Jah and publishing house Studio Anai-Anai as the “chief”.

Others named include Amir Muhammad who heads alternative publishing house Buku Fixi, Aloy Paradoks of Selut Press and Sang Freud Press, Aisa Linglung of Lejen Press, Mutalib Othman of Dubook Press, and Faisal Mustaffa of Merpati Jingga.

Despite denials by the government and the agency, sporadic leaks of closed-door events conducted by the BTN or featuring its staff have continued to entrench suspicions that the bureau was a hotbed of racism and “brainwashing”.

A senior BTN official caused an uproar back in 2010 when word leaked that he had used the terms “si mata sepet” and “si botol” at a closed-door Puteri Umno gathering to describe the Chinese and Indians respectively.

The terms are considered derogatory with “si mata sepet” meaning slit-eyed and “si botol”, alcoholic, in Malay.

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