BTN and then some

Hadfidz Baharom MI

DEC 23 — Here’s my piece against Biro Tata Negara, or BTN for short. I’m against it because it’s a racist, fascist, physically and mentally exerting camp that does nothing for the good of those who attend it, regardless of how Datuk Seri Sharizat insists that those who attend the camp “love it”.

Well, I love my country, alcohol and cigarettes too. Perhaps the definition of “love” used by the honourable minister is somewhat different than mine, because I downright hated the camp for its content.

I am sure it was fun for freshmen students in UiTM to get a week off from classes to attend the camp, but for me, there were better things to do.

Allow me to state some of the things I remember from the camp.

While mobile phones were taken away from students, the first thing I remembered was being taught a song. My current co-workers, reading the piece in the New Straits Times, have reminded me that the song title was “Warisan”.

Furthermore, we were then made to sit through lectures, the first one being that of our electoral history, with the statistics broken down by race, showing how in 1999 the Malay race was at its weakest due to “traitors”.

This is a direct quote from the trainer, by the way.

At that point, me having been involved in the campaign to elect Irene Fernandez under the PKR ticket during that election, I wondered if that made me a “traitor in the midst” of the “loyal Malay citizenry”.

He continued by stating that the Malays, as the majority in the nation, should have been ashamed to not be ruling this nation.

This “Tanah Melayu”-cum-Malaysia.

Furthermore, he said we should be ashamed to have had to deal with the Chinese demands to remain in power, allowing them to build more Chinese schools and give way to whatever they wanted.

Again, this is a direct quote.

I bet right now I’m already screwing Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s “Melayu Mudah Lupa” theory.

But then, I’m partially Chinese, Indian and Indonesian too, so perhaps he could use that as an excuse later on to dispel my Malay-ness.

The physical activities were innocent enough, though. From teaching us never to hand over our ICs to strangers pretending to be the authorities, to perhaps even giving us a sense of nationalism in trying to get us to step on our flags much to our protest.

The fact still remains. It was a camp with a racist agenda.

But the BTN camps are the least of our issues when it comes to our university students.

Let’s talk about student council elections in public universities.

Dearest citizens, do you know that the elections are rigged?

Two weeks prior to a student council election, pro-government candidates are usually taken off-campus to be groomed by their predecessors. And trust me; the camp is also attended by local politicians and, in UiTM’s case, their vice-chancellor.

This, of course, is the same V-C who insists that UiTM shouldn’t be open to non-Malay Malaysians, yet allows international students who are Muslims to enter.

While other candidates are given merely a few days to prepare themselves, the pro-government candidates have an existing electoral machine behind them to start off their campaigning.

I dropped out of the UiTM Shah Alam Student Council elections, citing “parental disagreements”. Fahmi Mansor, an ex-room mate studying actuarial science, was my campaign manager and thought it a waste since I was a sure bet to him at least.

Never thanked him for his confidence in me.

If Datuk Seri Najib Razak insists that this nation is to be unified under his 1 Malaysia agenda, there must be a need to not only cease the BTN camp, but undo the damage that the camp has done towards national unity for the past 28 years, soon to be 29.

It is also imperative that we stop tainting democracy at its early stages, in this case, the student council elections in public university campuses.

The fact remains that our higher education not only breeds hypocritical democracy and downright cheating, it’s also a breeding ground for drones who are not given the chance to voice their opinions due to the fear of losing a chance at a future.

While AUKU and Akujanji are supposed to limit political parties from affecting the student body, it should not be used against those who voice out injustice within the university itself, nor should it be used to stop students from having an opinion.

Similarly, V-Cs with political ambitions are not in the best interest of a nation’s education system.


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