Taxpayers’ money used to run an institutionalized racist program.
By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 8 — Former National Civics Bureau (BTN) director now turned PKR leader Datuk Johari Abdul (picture) claimed that it was Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who made the body a full-fledged racist indoctrination agency, contradicting the former premier who has gone all-out to defend BTN and deny that the body was used by Umno to sow racial hatred.
Speaking at a forum organised by PKR tonight, Johari claimed that prior to Dr Mahathir’s ascendancy as the prime minister, the body, not yet called the BTN, was initially used to counter the influence of anti-establishment Islamic movements in universities in the 1970s.
At the time, the body was headed by another former prime minister, Dr Mahathir’s arch-rival, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. He was not yet a politician at the time but a government officer.
“And when Abdullah became a full time politician, the body officially became BTN and its purpose was to raise the confidence of Malay students who were doing badly academically by instilling ideas like ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy),” said Johari who is also MP for Sungai Petani.
But when Dr Mahathir became prime minister, Johari said the former premier, whom he described as a “shrewd politician”, made full use of the BTN and turned it into a complete Umno-Barisan Nasional (BN) indoctrination machinery to maintain Malay loyalty to the status quo.
“One of the courses (under him) was that the Malay participants were taught to defend the Umno-BN government at all cost. If the Umno-BN government falls, than the Malays are made to think that the Malays would be enslaved in their own country.”
“And then it got worse when (PKR de facto leader) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was sacked by Dr Mahathir after a fall-out in 1998 and the BTN was then used to demonise all opposition leaders,” he added.
The PKR leader claimed he was speaking from personal experience as a former director of the agency.
And being a former director and also an Umno man, Johari admitted that he too at one point believed in the teachings of the BTN, and its supposed objective to help the Malays but has since “repented.”
“You know within your conscience that there is something wrong somewhere..it is wrong,” he said.
Johari said however that to be fair there was nothing wrong with the agency itself but that it was the syllabus that needed a revamp. He also said that Umno, as a political entity, has the right to do its best to edge out its political rivals.
“But don’t use taxpayers money for that. Finance your own programme,” he said.
The government had allocated RM64 million under the 2010 Federal Budget for BTN and the opposition is currently doing its best in Parliament to get BTN closed.
So far, some influential Umno leaders like Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, and Minister in the Prime Minister Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, have joined in the rising chorus against the agency.
Nazri had also blasted Dr Mahathir as a racist for defending BTN while Razaleigh claimed he too was a victim of the programme when he went against the former premier in the late 1980s.
But the hawks in Umno, through its newspapers like Berita Harian and Utusan Malaysia, have come out to defend BTN and blast its critics as attempting to politicise the issue.