KUALA LUMPUR: The National Civics Bureau (BTN) will overhaul its courses in line with the 1Malaysia spirit following accusations that they incite racial discord besides being government propaganda.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said the Cabinet had agreed to the revamp with Chief Secretary to the Government overseeing the task.
“The curriculum will be brought in line with the Prime Minister’s 1Malaysia concept, which means it will be more inclusive and will not divide Malaysians.
“If we have a course for only one racial group, then that is not 1Malaysia,” he said at the Parliament lobby yesterday.
The BTN courses have been criticised of late after allegations surfaced that they were a form of political indoctrination and that participants were taught racial hatred.
Last week, Selangor barred all state civil servants, students in state-run institutions of higher learning and employees of state government-linked companies from attending the courses.
State Education and Higher Education Committee chairman Dr Halimah Ali had reportedly said feedback from the participants indicated that the programmes were marred by racist remarks.
Penang Deputy Chief Minister (I) Mansor Othman had declared that the state government was considering a similar ban.
When it was first set up in 1974, BTN was known as the Youth Research Unit under the then Culture, Youth, and Sports Ministry.
It was moved to the Prime Minister’s Department in 1981 and renamed BTN in June the following year.
Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said BTN must be transparent about the course content so that it could be assessed by the people.
“We should not participate in any course that promotes racism and hatred,” he said at the Parliament lobby.
When BTN was established, he said there was no question about it being set up to inculcate national awareness, understanding of the Constitution and for the Malays to enhance their confidence.
He also said the Opposition did not have issues with any courses organised by the state or Federal Government to create motivation. However, he said objection must be made against those which carried racist tones.
DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang said he had raised the problem in his blog last year on how participants suffered “communal poison and racial hatred” from the “brainwashing courses”.
Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong of the DAP said the BTN was given a budget of RM62mil next year. It received RM74mil last year,
Gerakan Youth welcomed the proposed review by the Cabinet, saying that the move was consistent with Gerakan’s stand as well as public sentiment.
“If this unhealthy practice in BTN were to continue, it would undermine the Prime Minister’s vision of 1Malaysia,” secretary-general Dr Dominic Lau said.
“BTN’s objectives are good and even noble, that is to create a national identity and enhance unity. But the problem arises when some overzealous facilitators deviate from the objectives,” he said in a statement.
[Source : The Star Online]