Malaysiakini News

I'm in favour of abolishing BTN - Kit Siang

Lim Kit Siang  |  Published:  |  Modified:

MP SPEAKS | The desperado politics of fear, hate, lies, race and religion of Umno/BN in the 14th general election (GE14) was the culmination of years of indoctrination of racism, bigotry, intolerance and extremism by National Civics Bureau (Biro Tatanegara or BTN).

This is why BTN has no place in our New Malaysia.

It is no exaggeration to say that never before in the previous 13 general elections since 1959 had the country seen such intensity and viciousness in the politics of fear, hate, lies, race and religion as in GE14.

This reflected the racism, bigotry, intolerance and extremism that have been the staple diet of the BTN, to pit race against race and religion against religion, instead of promoting the Malaysian Dream of a plural nation of diverse races, religions, cultures and languages.

From a bureau which should be dedicated to promote national civic consciousness in a plural society, the BTN degenerated over time into a propaganda outfit to brainwash civil servants and youngsters into mindless defenders of the Umno/BN regime – even to the extent of supporting a kleptocratic regime!

It would appear that those responsible for BTN were blissfully unaware of the five principles of the Rukunegara and were the greatest opponents of Rukunegara, resulting in the BTN becoming the greatest obstacle to national unity.

Rebranding exercise?

It is most timely that the government is studying whether to abolish the BTN as it has only served the petty partisan Umno/BN interests and failed to serve the national interest.

This is the reason why I had long advocated the abolition of BTN.

In 2016, the newly-appointed BTN director-general Ibrahim Saad said that BTN would undergo a rebranding exercise that aimed to dispel perceptions it was racist.

Ibrahim could not be more wrong. The problem with BTN was not about rebranding or its “perception” that it was racist, but about its raison d’etre – negative, divisive and anti-national role inciting racism, disunity, bigotry and intolerance – instead of fostering patriotism, unity, inter-racial and inter-religious understanding and goodwill.

Even the former top Malay civil servants in G25 have condemned BTN of being “ultra Malay-racist” and have joined the growing chorus demanding the dissolution of the “anti-national” BTN.

Over the years, BTN had become a Bureau Tentang Nasional, aggravating instead of narrowing the racial and religious polarisation in our plural society.

BTN’s great failure is its refusal to leverage on the unique position of Malaysia as a confluence of the great religions and civilisations of the world, to spread and disseminate the best values from the various religions and civilisations.


LIM KIT SIANG is the DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri.

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