BTN’s Murky Beginnings

Loh – Malaysiakini

I refer to the Malaysiakini report Pak Lah defends BTN courses and the letter Keling – they helped make this country great.

Former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi claimed that the Biro Tata Negara (BTN) programme began during Tun Abdul Razak’s regime to explain the New Economic Policy and that it was not racist in intention.

NEP was meant to justify why the 1969 riots had happened, and to be a response to prevent a repeat of the May 13 incident. The government of the time pretended that May 13 was a spontaneous outcry of Malays against non-Malays because they lagged behind other races in economic advancement.

Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad in a letter stated that the phone call that Tun Razak made to Harun Idris on the afternoon of May 13, 1969 was half an hour too late to avert the May 13 incident. It proves that the incident was organised, rather than a spontaneous reaction to a situation where NEP was needed to rectify it.

NEP went beyond the provision of Article 153. Islamic religion is said to forbid practices of discrimination and unjust policies. Thus, government officers steeped in practicing Islamic faith would not easily accept the duties in implementing unjust policies against those because of accidents of birth, base on race.

That was especially so since government officers from the days of Malaya’s independence in 1957 had accepted that all Malayan citizens were equal, and that the specific special assistance provided under Article 153 had the intended purpose sanctioned by the Malaysian Constitution.

Indeed, the practices of NEP such as for example, students’ enrolment to Mara institutions was reserved exclusively for Malays went against article 153. It is for the purpose of placating Muslim officers into implementing racial discriminating NEP programmes that BTN was introduced by Razak’s regime, so it seems.

Over time, millions of Malay government servants have been brainwashed into believing in Ketuanan Melayu in a country where almost half the population are not Melayu.

BTN-trained Malay government officers now believe in special privilege entitlement, as a birthright. Yet Mahathir cried publicly stating that he was not able to change the Malay mindset from depending on NEP crutches.

The crocodile tears of Mahathir could not hide his joy for having made Malays accept the mindset of Ketuanan Melayu and his continued relevance as a Malay champion.

If Mahathir really wanted Malays to be able to rise above others based on their inert ability rather than based on collective voting strength in general election, he should have committed himself to the wishes of the late Tun Ismail, to ask Malays to forgo Article 153 out of pride.

We know that the late Tun Ismail was Malay, and he cared about the pride of Malays. We are not sure of the true feeling Mahathir has about Malays.

For the government to practice true democracy, and for the society to benefit from social and economic developments that democracy endows, the government services that implement policies of elected government should stay neutral of political parties.

Over the years government servants have been indoctrinated to make decisions taking race as the deciding factor. That is not only against democracy, it is against unity.

Yet some Umno leaders should blame the vernacular schools for preventing students coming under one roof to promote unity. Having preached unity, the government chooses to promote racism to government scholars and government servants through BTN.

The letter by Lt Col (Retired) Mohd Idris Hassan tells us that adults during Tunku Abdul Rahman’s era have long accepted the concept of Bangsa Malaysia.

It was Mahathir who took issue with Tunku, and he succeeded in influencing Razak to deviate from the Malaysian nation of Tunku’s ideal.

Mahathir is still trying to influence Razak’s son on BTN, to depart from the concept of 1Malaysia.

Badawi should have known that BTN had outlived its purposes after the NEP had long achieved its stated objectives.


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