BTN course facilitators handpicked, says former director
KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 9, 2009): Biro TataNegara (BTN) or National Civics Bureau facilitators were handpicked by politicians or “whoever were in positions of power”, said former BTN director Datuk Johari Abdul, who is now Parti Keadilan Rakyat MP for Sungai Petani.
“Most of them were civil servants, some on contract, some permanent but (they) are a bunch of committed people. They work hard for certain purposes, depending on what their bosses want,” said Johari who was the BTN director from 1986 to 1990.
Johari, who was in Umno for 16 years before joining PKR in 1998, said many of the courses were run simultaneously and there were different departments and sections in charge to handle the courses.
He said various senior officers were tasked with handling courses for students, corporate leaders, ministers or even member of parliaments.
Apart from BTN facilitators themselves conducting the courses, various speakers from outside were also invited by the officers.
“Among the criteria for these speakers are they must be ultra-Malay, someone who is wiling to talk about Malay supremacy, someone Malay enough and while they conduct the courses, some of these speakers do go overboard,” admitted Johari.
He said there was no specific instructions given by higher ups on the content of the courses but said it was an “open secret” that the course was to ” glorify” the Malay leaders.
“When these speakers are invited to talk, they have certain expectations. They have their own KPIs (key performance index) and BTN has its own KPI so there was an understanding,” said Johari.
“The yardstick is, if they don’t get called by their leaders, then it’s a good job, that’s the unspoken KPI.”
He alleged former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad, who was the premier for 22 years, turned BTN into a Umno-Barisan Nasional (BN) indoctrination machinery to maintain loyalty to the leaders.
“Mahathir was the one who used BTN to the fullest. I wouldn’t say he designed the curriculum but he had his advisors.”
Datuk Ahmad Maslan, who is the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, last week clarified a statement by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz that the curriculum would be revamped to be in line with the 1Malaysia concept.
Ahmad said instead of a revamp, the curriculum is to be upgraded.
Nazri and Mahathir are exchanging heated criticism of each other over the BTN course issue, with the former calling Mahathir a racist. Mahathir had said the BTN should be maintained as it promoted nationalism.
Johari said the BTN which was first established in 1974 with a different name was placed under the then Youth and Sports Ministry.
In fact, its first director was former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
In 1983, it was re-named BTN and was placed under the Prime Minister’s department.
Johari said he had no qualms if Umno conducted such programmes using their own funds but “don’t use the public funds.”
Parliament recently approved a budget of RM62 million for BTN.