A Participant’s Perspective Of Kursus Kenegaraan (BTN)

By A Disappointed Civil Servant

It amuses me to note the rapacious back and forth regarding the Kursus Kenegaraan organised by the Biro Tatanegara. However, i notice that remarks defending the program have so far been based on perspectives of certain Government officials, who may or may not have been subjected to the charms of the program. As a serving Government professional of non-Bumiputera descent, I feel it is pertinent that I share my experience of this program, so that some objectivity may be achieved in understanding the isssue at hand.

It is compulsory for all Govt. servants to attend this course once during service. I attended the program in 2006, in a group of 80-odd Malays and 9 non-Malays. We were a mix of doctors, dentists, pharmacists and teachers. On the first day, we had to listen to a series of 4 lectures, all delivered by lecturers from the local MARA University campus. I vividly remember the 1st lecture on Kerakyatan, for it was delivered with such fervour by an obviously inspired lecturer. At times he seemed to go off his script and made several references to ‘other’ races being ‘pendatangs’ and forgetting their ‘place’ in society, and not being grateful for the citizenship ‘awarded’ to them, and other remarks of a similar vein.

However what shocked me was when this lecturer, in a frenzied fit of rage, asked the audience whether they knew that ALL Indians who migrated here were from the PARIAH caste, and similarly all Chinese who came here were also from the lower classes in their country of origin. I was livid with rage that this supposed university lecturer had the unabashed temerity to tar all Indians and Chinese with the same brush, and make such an unsubstantiated sweeping statement that may have been lapped up by the ill-informed as the gospel truth. From that moment I was mentally tuned off from listening to further garbage being spewed by this obvious racist. After ranting and raving for a good forty minutes more, he mercifully concluded and invited questions from the floor.

I immediately got up and proceeded to enquire on what basis the lecturer made his sweeping statements, and if he was aware that aside from indentured labourers, the British had brought educated Indians and Ceylonese Tamils to serve in the civil service in pre-independence Malaya. I then informed him that I was a 3rd generation civil servant, and the last time I checked, I wasn’t a PARIAH. By this time the lecturer was squirming in discomfort, especially as the crowd assembled there started to cheer me on. I sternly told the lecturer to check his facts before he confuses others with blatant untruths.

The Chinese dentist that stood up after me was in no conciliatory mood however. She blasted the lecturer outright by saying ‘Saya berasa amat tersinggung dengan apa yang dikatakan oleh penceramah tadi (I am offended by the remarks made by the lecturer); ianya sangat tidak adil dan amat mengelirukan para hadirin di sini (it is an unfair statement and can confuse the others assembled here).’ Probably stung by the truth of those comments, the lecturer tried to weasel out of the messy situation by defending his statement which was made in a particular context. But none of us were fooled, and we realised that this course was an attempt to stereotype and racially profile the citizenry for the benefit of a certain group to assert its ‘ketuanan’ on others.

Suffice to say, i was least interested in the ensuing activities, especially the drill parade where we were forced to pray with arms outstretched to maintain ‘conformity’, despite my usual method being the traditional hands clasped in supplication.

Ultimately, the course made me despise the way the non-bumis were treated, and served to reinforce the belief shared by many that it is a brainwashing and indoctrination exercise to target the ill-informed and the gullible. I am sure my Malay friends would (mostly) have cringed in shame at the way their fellow citizens were humiliated and made a mockery of.

Bottom line is, stay away from this course. It does no good and can serve to divide the population.

  1. #1 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 17 October 2010 - 8:46 pm

    It is natural and inevitable logic for BTN to indoctrinate Ketuanan precepts if it were to serve an effective tool to buttress and perpetuate UMNO’s political power.

    In the communal structure of our politics, the raison de etre of UMNO, MCA & MIC is to fight for its/respective communal constituencies’ interest but owing to historical reasons UMNO is naturally the big brother whose agenda takes precedence over the rest.

    To garner Malay votes it is important for UMNO to be viewed continuously as champion of Malay interest. To this end, it is necessary to keep Malays as original definitive people apart from immigrants both in the period immediately after independence – and in decades after, their respective descendants separate as well by the Bumi-Non Bumi dichotomy.

    The rationale for keeping separate is to correct the injustices of colonial powers done to the definitive people and to honour the so called “Social Contract” between them and the original immigrants and their descendants..

    The injustice is supposedly derived from Colonial powers bringing in the “pendatangs” in pre-independence times without the definitive people bing able to do anything about it. And when leaving, the colonialists make amends to immigrants by negotiating on their behalf citizenship based on “Jus soli” notion – ie the principle that the country of citizenship of a child is determined by its country of birth, irrespective of the nationality of its parents. Hence all who were born in the country as citizens without taking into account their ancestors, from where they came, will become citizens…In quid pro quo trade off and exchange for the “Jus soli “ concession, the definitive people are accorded special privileges enshrined in Article 153 of the Constitution, amended from 15 year reviewable to perpetual. This constitutes the bases of thought of the famous “Social Contract” which the constitution mentions nothing about expressly but apologists for the concept and defenders of its perpetuity argue it’s implied.

    For so long as the bumi/non bumi dichotomy – first class and rest of citizenry – remains relevant, so the reason of existence for a communal party like UMNO remains – to champion Malay interests to rectify historical anomalies and injustices and enforce compliance of the Social Contract!

    With each other communal parties like MCA & MIC also fighting for their respective communal interest, the theory is that any tendency on UMNO’s part towards extremity of Malay agenda when pursued by it will be balanced & moderated by competing claims of and bargaining by the other component parties (MCA & MIC) having so called power sharing with UMNO within the BN. This is only theory. In practice, UMNO controls political appointments in govt and the patronage strings/goodies in gravy train and soon, consistent with ketuanan, all the component parties defer to its leadership and dominance, thereby causing them to underpresent if not neglect their respective communities’ interest thereby driving their traditional supporters to switch support for the more inclusive and non communal platforms of the Opposition. BTN is therefore another face of UMNO serving to further its political agenda of perpetuating hold on power based on the precepts of Ketuanan and Social Contract.

    Bottom line, to criticise BTN’s lecturers as racist and to ask UMNO dominant govt. to disband BTN for indoctrinating race based ideologies amongst civil servants contrary to 1 Malaysia, it is, as usual, putting UMNO on the spot of being unable to reconcile its 1 Malaysia platform with that of BTN’s work, which is basically to serve as tool to advance UMNO’s traditional raison de etre of keeping races separate and apart in order to play champion to the majority one whose voting support is considered pivotal and decisive. It’s like asking it to shoot its own foot, a very painful task.

  2. #2 by yhsiew on Sunday, 17 October 2010 - 9:14 pm

    Chua Soi Lek, where are you? If MCA claims to represent the Chinese community, please do something on the BTN.

  3. #3 by cemerlang on Sunday, 17 October 2010 - 9:24 pm

    Don’t stay away from any course. Don’t stay away from any activity which the gomen has given you a calling letter. This is how you will know your place in Malaysia. This is how you will know how Malaysians look at you, a Malaysian also. You want to make a change ? Then attend every gomen function and from there you start making small changes. You see many Malaysians are sleeping and having this sweet dream and it is high time they wake up from their sleep. An anesthesia given sleep. If the clever lecturer says something gila, get up and say your piece politely and then write an official letter to every gomen complaint department through your ketua jabatan so that everyone will know this sort of thing is happening. You have been keeping quiet and walking away for the past 53 or 47 years. Good Malaysian citizens. Are you going to keep quiet and walk away for the next 50 years ?

  4. #4 by boh-liao on Sunday, 17 October 2010 - 9:38 pm

    Great 4 U 2 stand up n speak out against d racist speaker
    Yes, nonMalays must attend these courses n speak out, expose d dirty practice
    Remember, U r NOT gomen servant, U r civil servant or public servant in d civil service
    Your loyalty is 2 d nation, not 2 d gomen, esp a racist n corrupt gomen dat ruins d nation

  5. #5 by drngsc on Sunday, 17 October 2010 - 10:05 pm

    Thanks for sharing. It just further confirms for us what we knew all along. By standing up, I hope that you and your dental friend were not punished.
    Thanks for standing up for us and for the truth. You have my support and help, if you need it.

  6. #6 by cemerlang on Sunday, 17 October 2010 - 11:09 pm

    Why should they be punished for demanding to be treated equally ? Just for once. Be research minded and be facts minded. Calling people pendatang is subjective because showing a birth cert, an IC and all relevant documents are objective enough to say that you are a Malaysian. Being professional, you should not be subjective. Being a lecturer, you are presenting facts and what better facts and objectivity are birth certs and IC and others. This MARA lecturer must have been ordered to talk about those things. He did not go out from his script. He knew what he was doing. MARA lecturers are known to be so Melayuistic and so Islamistic. Next time try getting one from an oversea campus university, a semi gomen university, a gomen university and another neutral guest. This is to avoid extreme views of one end only. How can poor Malaysia progress when you have this sort of stupid close minded lecturers teaching students who will equally become stupid and close minded ? An education institution which still lives and thrives in dark age is so sad.

  7. #7 by sheriff singh on Sunday, 17 October 2010 - 11:21 pm

    Did any senior non-Malay BN politician attend these courses?

    What did they do or say?

    Have they been brainwashed?

  8. #8 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Monday, 18 October 2010 - 12:23 am

    I am unable to speculate where that MARA lecturer was trained. Probably BTN and some local university.

    But I would not be misplaced to say that his ‘lecture’ was the clear result of “GIGO” – Garbage In Garbage Out.

    Now my question is: how many of such GIGO lecturers are on the government’s payroll which is such a drain on the country’s operating expenditure as the Budget 2011 shows. Good grief, 1.3 million+ civil servants! Hopefully, not all GIGO. But this MARA lecturer is giving the pool a bad name, ‘seekor lembu bawah lumpur….semua kena’-lah!

  9. #9 by ekompute on Monday, 18 October 2010 - 4:06 am

    Hi Disappointed Civil Servant, what the pariah lecturer was uttering is against Prophet’s Last Sermon which says that “All mankind is from Adam and Haww??, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action…”

    So what is all those praying with arms outstretched all about? Pure hypocrisy!

  10. #10 by ekompute on Monday, 18 October 2010 - 4:07 am

    Hi Disappointed Civil Servant, what the so-called “lecturer” was uttering is against Prophet’s Last Sermon which says that “All mankind is from Adam and Haww??, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action…”

    So what is all those praying with arms outstretched all about? Pure hypocrisy!

  11. #11 by cemerlang on Monday, 18 October 2010 - 6:57 am

    Not all garbage lecturers are stupid. Same for the actual garbage that is thrown away. Most can be recycled and be useful again. The not useful one is turned into energy. But nuclear waste cannot be disposed off and you can think of that stupid lecturer as a toxic nuclear waste. Cannot be recycled, cannot be turned into energy but remain destructive to everyone and everything around him including himself. Your lecturer is wise enough to have taught you well. That is that lecturer’s version of Adam and Hawa and probably he is going to start a religious movement on his own with his own interpretation of the book. hai ya so susah. No wonder students are so screwed, dump babies and all that.

  12. #12 by waterfrontcoolie on Monday, 18 October 2010 - 7:36 am

    Those MARA lecturers, except other races, could not compete openly in other campuses thus their behaviour. They alway felt short-changed without realizing that they are the ones who had everyone short-changed in the country. when the programme of indoctrination has been carried thus far, these lecturers forgot that they had stopped thinking long time ago. You can just pity the whole Bumi- society that such minds are going to spurt their next few generations [ well they would not go any where until they retire at 60 or more!] to compete with the rest of the whole. If being selfish, I would hope theynhave such minds to lead them for the next few generations and then we see if 2020 would mean any thing to them. just like the editor of Singapore Berita Harian reminded the Super Ego, don’t ever compare us with you across the Causeway! We can stand and have stood on our two feet and feeling proud of what we can achieve without seeking for clutches from anybody! That is MARUAH of a society! With so many better brains being trained all these years, I am still wondering as to why, those brains still allow such naive, harebrain lectures to be carried out, maybe the population and the general hallmarks of Mara suit such purpose.

  13. #13 by k1980 on Monday, 18 October 2010 - 8:32 am

    Is it true that all BTN participants need to obtain a ‘pass’ in that course before they are eligible for promotion to a higher salary scale?

    I wonder what Chua SL and Koh TK would react had they been lectured by that particular Mara lecturer? KTK would had buried his head in the sand and CSL would stand up to deny that he had ever met Angela Yam

  14. #14 by dagen on Monday, 18 October 2010 - 9:16 am

    Keep the course I say. Run it like before. But pls participants do stand up like the author above and that other lady he mentioned for what is the truth and confront those idiots for spewing nonsense. They are bullys because they are always hiding behind what they believed to be majority in number. And because they have neither guts nor brains to take on challenges directed at them.

    Turn BTN into our stage instead. Use it to propagate the true meaning of malaysian malaysia or if you like jib’s copycat version, 1malaysia. Yes bravo to the author and the lady participant. And YES A MIGHTY BIG BRAVO TO THE REST OF THE PARTICIPANTS WHO ARE MALAY FOR CHEERING THE AUTHOR ON IN THE CHALLENGE HE THREW AT THE SPEAKER!

  15. #15 by sheriff singh on Monday, 18 October 2010 - 9:49 am

    Is the BTN staffed 100% by racists Malays?

    Aren’t there any non-Malays working in BTN?

    Is there any non-Malay BTN lecturers or speakers?


  16. #16 by Bigjoe on Monday, 18 October 2010 - 10:19 am

    The Chinese enclaves of South East Asia – Penang, Singapore, Melaka, Jakarta, Manila, Bangkok, Saigon, and also places like Terengganu and Medan were started by merchants, explorers first. Look closers and you will see people of all types including stories of nobilities and intellectuals.

    The ignorance is amazing.

  17. #17 by on cheng on Monday, 18 October 2010 - 10:33 am

    No country can ever progress much by making their people hates, mocks, despices one aonther. This BTN thing comes to light after 2008-03-08, before this, it was almost covered up!

  18. #18 by passerby on Monday, 18 October 2010 - 11:35 am

    umno are nazi and they are using btn to make the malay the master race. This is the same tactic the nazi was using trying to proclaim that the malay is more superior than the other race. This kind of tactic will never work because all human beings are the same. Only hard work will make you a better person.

  19. #19 by k1980 on Monday, 18 October 2010 - 12:19 pm

    The melaka sultanate was founded in the early 1400s. Only 300 years later were Canada, Australia and New Zealand “discovered” and settled by western pendatangs. How come malaysia even with a 300-year headstart is so far behind those countries?

  20. #20 by baochingtian on Monday, 18 October 2010 - 12:48 pm

    It’ll be the end of b-n if one day we have a malay participant stood up to speak against these racist lecturers… errh… will that be a day??

  21. #21 by baochingtian on Monday, 18 October 2010 - 12:56 pm

    PM also speaks without principle. To the village folks, u help me i help u. To the slightly educated lot, u r a goood loyal citizen (never mentioned “malaysian”, mind u, mr chua ) but behind u, jz a bunch of pendatang. Top already crooked, do we expect anything more from BTN?

  22. #22 by dagen on Monday, 18 October 2010 - 1:50 pm

    “The melaka sultanate was founded in the early 1400s. Only 300 years later were Canada, Australia and New Zealand “discovered” and settled by western pendatangs. How come malaysia even with a 300-year headstart is so far behind those countries?” k1980.

    Huh dont you know? They had 300 solid yrs of fun playing with their ketuanan!

  23. #23 by Mel_a_yu on Monday, 18 October 2010 - 5:24 pm

    #20 – Canada , Australia and New Zealand founded by the British 300 yrs later than the 1400s laa Mr Dagen. The ‘Indian’ tribes in Canada, the aborigines in Australia and the Maoris in New Zealand lost all their ketuanan and became ‘tawanan’… until forever.

  24. #24 by perampok cinta1 on Monday, 18 October 2010 - 5:41 pm

    At first glance after reading the so called letter from disappointed civil servant, I’m not sure either this letter is genuine. Posted on your blog it further proves you have hidden agenda behind. On the positive site, I think whatever being told at BTN is base on fact and very fair. If the ‘disappointed civil servant’ felt wrong about it, let him face the fact. The truth is there. Furthermore, he/she attended the BTN in 2006, I’m sure a lot have been done to improve the BTN towards having a better syllabus. After 2008 election, BTN is still relevant to all of us. Please joint and judge yourselves.

  25. #25 by ktteokt on Monday, 18 October 2010 - 5:53 pm

    And don’t forget that MARA stands for MAJLIS AMANAH RAKYAT! How come RAKYAT only include Malays to them? Are the other races in Malaysia NOT RAKYAT??????

  26. #26 by cemerlang on Monday, 18 October 2010 - 11:34 pm

    Lecturers, teachers, whatever they are called are supposed to be intelligent. If you are not intelligent, how can you teach someone to be a doctor ? If you cannot think deep and high enough about laws, how can you teach someone to be a lawyer ? So why is the gomen bringing in lecturers who are not up to that mark ? You see if you are to train a degree student, you yourself must have a master qualification. If you have a diploma and somehow you can train a degree student, then there is no credibility at all. Not just paper qualifications. The thoughts, the opinions, the views, the discussions, the students are the next generation and you are to create the next generation for the next period of life. When you are gone, they will take over. Is the gomen thinking of all this ? It is not just mega structures, mega money, mega face and whatever mega. The minds have to be equally mega in quality and in quantity. We cannot go on deceiving ourselves. And MARA is the pet project of UMNO.

  27. #27 by Comrade on Tuesday, 19 October 2010 - 11:59 am

    Not all BTN participants
    Can be indoctrinated
    Some in disappointment
    Will voice out for being discriminated

    Thank you brave one
    For fighting for justice
    May more do what has been done
    To expose the malpractice

    The right-thinking Malays
    Were cheering on the Indian and Chinese
    This is a unique 1Malaysian way
    To put right the mind of a racist

    BN/UMNO is not the nation’s guide
    For going against the 1M ideologies
    They are not on the peoples’ side
    Only for themselves, family and cronies

    Kick out the corrupt ruling government
    This coming 13th general election
    Vote in PR the alternative management
    For a better future of our nation

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