By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 15 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak met with officials from the controversial National Civics Bureau (BTN) early this morning and directed them to include more of his 1 Malaysia ideas in their courses to promote racial unity.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister Department and BTN chief Datuk Ahmad Maslan disclosed the latest development, adding Najib was also briefed on claims that BTN was promoting racial hatred.
However, Ahmad Maslan refused to divulge the contents of the meeting held in Parliament nor the prime minister’s response to the allegations.
“You don’t expect me to tell you everything from A to Z?” he replied in response to a question on Najib’s stand on the matter during a press conference at the Parliament lobby.
Ahmad also refused to divulge whether or not the meeting acknowledged the accusations made by their political rivals but maintained that BTN is in no way a racist indoctrination agency.
Just like in the past, he refuted the allegations saying that only few from the 500,000 participants had complained.
Ahmad had said that the allegations were cases of “minor slip ups” by BTN lecturers.
He reiterated his controversial view again today and took a swipe at BTN’s critics.
“Maybe the one that complained are children of DAP or PKR,” he said.
Umno is divided over the BTN fiasco with Ahmad and many other hawks in Umno including Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin are defending BTN but fellow party leaders like Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz has openly blasted the agency’s courses as racist.
It is later learnt that Najib had issued a gag order, instructing all Umno leaders to stop making open statements on the issue.
Najib has been on a vigorous effort to regain Umno-Barsian Nasional’s lost ground through his economic policies and issues like the BTN have been a setback for the prime minister to achieve his goals.
He has approved some 300 programmes proposed in eight labs set up Oct 5 for the six National Key Result Areas (NKRAs), 1 Malaysia and national unity panels to be implemented soon as a means to overcome growing support for the Pakatan Rakyat opposition bloc.
The programmes will be made public on Dec 17 and 18 in Bandar Sunway but critics say the BTN courses are sabotaging his 1 Malaysia ideals.
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s administration will face delays in implementing racial unity and national integration initiatives involving his 1 Malaysia concept after failing to get a consensus from Umno members of his Cabinet.
The failure to reach a consensus has resulted in the Cabinet deciding to postpone the public preview of the 1 Malaysia initiatives which had been scheduled this week along with the display of his other National Key Results Area (NKRA) programmes.
The Malaysian Insider understands the decision to postpone the public display of the 1 Malaysia initiatives was made at a special retreat of ministers here on Sunday.
As a result, the NKRA open days scheduled for tomorrow and Friday at the Sunway Convention Centre in Petaling Jaya will not include the initiatives related to the 1 Malaysia concept.
The only element that will be on display will be the general framework of the 1 Malaysia concept.
According to sources, the Cabinet made its decision to ensure a more holistic and complete study because it was felt that many of the initiatives were “too general” and “difficult to accept” because of racial and religious sensitivities.
It is understood that the strongest objections came from Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Rais Yatim.
“Some members of the Cabinet feel that it would be better for the ideas that were developed to be put off temporarily so that a more complete study could be done,” said one source.
The recent controversy surrounding the Biro Tata Negara (BTN), which had come under heavy fire for propagating racism against non-Malays, had been expected to be a measure to evaluate the effectiveness of Najib’s 1 Malaysia laboratories set up by his hand-picked minister Datuk Seri Idris Jala.
But the delay in implementing the 1 Malaysia initiatives will put a crimp on efforts to overhaul the BTN, which had initially been agreed on by the Cabinet, as well other race relation issues.
It is understood that in justifying their decision to delay its implementation, Cabinet members were of the opinion that the 1 Malaysia concept should be expanded to all ministries and not just certain ministries and government departments.
Sources familiar with the matter said that the additional study ordered by the Cabinet will take at least one to two months to complete.
They said that cost was also cited as an excuse for why the initiatives could not be implemented now.
“Immediate implementation would result in additional costs and so many agencies were not ready to start implementing the initiatives,” said one source.
“That is why these ideas cannot be displayed this week. Possibly a special display will be organised on the 1 Malaysia concept in the second quarter of next year.”
The Malaysian Insider understands that some Cabinet members, particularly those from Umno, also felt that initiatives derived from the 1 Malaysia laboratories could not be equated with the other ideas for the six NKRAs announced by Najib in July.
Besides the six NKRAs — reduction of crime, anti-corruption, better access to affordable and quality education, higher standard of living for the poor, better rural infrastructure and improved public transport — the laboratories under Idris had also formulated an action plan for the 1 Malaysia concept and national unity.
The eight laboratories had started operations on Oct 5 and completed their work in two months.
When met after Sunday’s Cabinet retreat, Najib had said he was generally satisfied with the overall results of the six NKRA laboratories.
The prime minister said however that the public could make their own assessment of the reports during this week’s open day.
Najib said the move to display the NKRAs was to show the government was committed towards its Government Transformation Programme (GTP) under the tagline of 1 Malaysia, which is “People First, Performance Now.”
These programmes are part of measures which will be implemented between 2010 and 2012.