At last, a state is brave enough to put a stop to something which should have been done a long time ago.
The Selangor government today announced that its civil servants, students in state-owned higher learning institutions and employees in state subsidiaries will be barred from attending nation-building programmes carried out by Biro Tatanegara.
The programmes were described as tools of indoctrination, peppered with racist ideas.
State exco in charge of education and higher education Dr Halimah Ali said the new policy would be implemented with immediate effect after the state government issues formal instructions to the institutions involved.
She told reporters in Shah Alam that the decision was made based on feedback from participants.
“The participants told us that BTN is used as a tool by the Barisan Nasional government to indoctrinate the youth,” she said, adding that the ‘racism’ espoused would divide the people.
Among the institutions involved are Universiti Industri Selangor (Unisel), Kolej Universiti Antarabangsa Selangor (Kuis), Inpens International College, Institut Kemahiran Yayasan Negeri Selangor.
‘Hate the oppositions’ booklets
Speaking of her own experience, Halimah (below) said one of her children, who had attended such a programme, was given a booklet that contained information “to hate the oppositions”.
“So the state government has decided to stop this programme completely because it does not provide anything positive to young minds.
“Instead of wasting people’s money on this, it is better for the state government to give opportunities to students and civil servants by providing courses that contribute to unity and harmony in Selangor,” she added.
Last week, Selangor Pakatan Rakyat’s youth leaders urged the state government to stop sending students for the BTN programmes.
According to PKR state assemblyperson Amiruddin Shari, nation-building programmes organised by the PM’s department had become tools to spread “Umno/BN political ideology and racial politics”.
“From the feedback we received from participants, they were indoctrinated in Malay supremacy propaganda and outside influences,” he said.
SHAH ALAM, Nov 25 — Selangor moved today to ban its civil servants, employees of state subsidiaries and students at state-owned education institutions from attending any Biro Tata Negara (BTN) courses with immediate effect.
Dr Halimah Ali announced the decision today after the weekly state executive council meeting.
Halimah, a state executive council member whose portfolio includes education, described BTN programmes as “indoctrination by the Barisan Nasional (BN) government”.
“The courses promote racism and my own children who have attended BTN have been given booklets that encourage hate towards the opposition,” said Halimah.
“The programmes are not positive to young minds, and are a waste of money which could have used to foster real unity.”
BTN courses have been running for years, and are intended to instil nationalistic values and patriotism, but are now seen as more of a propaganda unit. The courses are for university students on public scholarships and civil servants. BTN is under the Prime Minister’s Department.
Under the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) administration’s new directives, students at Selangor government-owned institutions of higher learning including Universiti Industri Selangor (Unisel), Kolej Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Selangor and Inpens Selangor will no longer be required to go for BTN courses.
Last week, a group of young PR elected representatives urged the Selangor government to stop allowing students to be sent for what they called “brainwashing propaganda” programmes by BTN.
The group of seven PR lawmakers had also said BTN courses — compulsory for local university students and civil servants — taught students to hate and were contrary to their original purpose as well as the Constitution.
Seri Setia state lawmaker Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, speaking from his own experience, said they were told that PKR members were Jewish agents, that DAP was a Singapore party, while PAS was labelled a deviant movement.
Batu Caves lawmaker Amirudin Shari said a big part of the programme had nothing to do with nation building or education but was an Umno and BN race-based programme where participants are indoctrinated with propaganda about “Ketuanan Melayu”.
It is understood that the BN federal government plans to overhaul the BTN courses in response to growing criticisms.
The Malaysian Insider had reported last week that the proposal to revamp BTN courses is part of initiatives being pushed by Datuk Seri Idris Jala and a task force set up to promote 1 Malaysia, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s concept announced when he took the top job on April 3.
1 Malaysia is one of several laboratories set up to push through ideas on Key Performance Index (KPI) and National Key Results Areas (NKRAs) that Najib knows will be the tipping point in the next general election.
His ruling BN coalition was badly beaten in Election 2008 under the leadership of former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when it lost four more states and 82 federal seats to give up its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority.
It was felt the BTN needed a complete makeover to promote inclusiveness.