The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak should abolish the Biro TataNegara (BTN) in the 2016 Budget calibration on Thursday, initiating a study whether BTN can be redeemed and totally revamped to promote national unity instead of fostering racism, disunity, bigotry, intolerance and extremism in the last three decades.
On Thursday, the newly-appointed BTN director-general Ibrahim Saad said that BTN would undergo a rebranding exercise that aims to dispel perceptions it is racist and see its module updated to suit current needs.
The problem with BTN is not about rebranding or that it suffered from “perceptions” that it is racist, but whether the BTN could be redeemed and totally revamped from its ration d’etre for the past few decades – negative, divisive and anti-national role in indoctrinating and inciting racism, disunity, bigotry and intolerance instead of fostering patriotism, unity, inter-racial and inter-religious understanding and goodwill.
Even for former top Malay civil servants in G25 have condemned BTN of being “ultra Malay-racist”.
This was why former diplomat and spokesperson of G25 Datuk Farida Ariffin have joined the growing chorus demanding that the Najib government should dissolve the “anti-national” BTN.
As late as November last year, an UMNO Member of Parliament told DAP MP for Kota Kinabalu, Jimmy Wong, to “balik tongsan” or to “return to mainland China” – a mark of the tentacles and success of BTN in indoctrinating a racist, extremist and anti-national mentality among Malaysians in the fifth decade of our nationhood.
For the past 30 years, Parliament had allocated some RM1.2 billion for the BTN operate without any close monitoring and supervision, allowing BTN to carry out its activities as a Bureau Tentang Nasional, aggravating instead of narrowing the racial and religious polarisation in our plural society.
For some three decades, the BTN had failed to use the Rukunegara as a basic text of its national civics course, resulting with more and more Malaysians in each generation ignorant about Rukunegara as to be guided by its principles.
The BTN has also failed 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.
I am reminded of the two Quranic verses:
1. O you who believe, if a wicked person brings any news to you, you shall first investigate, lest you commit injustice towards some people, out of ignorance, then become sorry and remorseful for what you have done.
2. O you who have believed, avoid such (negative) assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful.
If these Quranic teachings to to be good, honest and truthful, like the teachings of the other great religions which meet in confluence in Malaysia, are diligently and conscientiously inparted to all Malaysians, then the country would not have been troubled by dishonest, untruthful and treacherous falsehoods trying to set one race against another or one religion against another – like the recent falsehood that Christian missionaries target the uneducated in Malaysia and offer money and aid to secure their conversion or the downright lie accusing the DAP of supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) as trade in the country is purportedly controlled by the Chinese community.
The increasing racial and religious polarisation in the country, with the country experiencing the worst state of national unity in the nation’s history, is an indictment of the abject failures of BTN in the past three decades.
The budgets for BTN multiplied ten-fold in the eighties compared to the nineties, multiplying from some RM20 million in the eighties to RM200 million in the nineties, which continued to increase, in fact more than double to over RM550 million in the first decade of the 21st century. From 2010 to 2016, the budgets for BTN totalled over RM400 million.
This means that for the last three decades, the BTN had cost the taxpayers some RM1.2 billion.
There can be no doubt that the RM 1.2 billion spent by BTN in the past three decades can be better utilised in promoting national unity and harmony.
The RM1.2 billion would also be better spent to help the poor, needy and disadvantaged, regardless of race and religion, in the past three decades instead of running and maintaining an anti-national agency under the cover of promoting patriotism in the very bosom of the government civil service, mushrooming from a staff of a handful in the early eighties to some 300 public servants at present.