Untold Story about BTN
To The Editor, The Star
A Participant's Perspective Of Kursus Kenegaraan(BTN)
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.
A Disappointed Civil Servant
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