Tuesday, December 01, 2009

BTN revamp right and timely

Patriotism is a right of all citizens

We welcome the decision of the Cabinet to revamp the Biro Tata Negara (BTN) courses to be in line with the 1Malaysia concept of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak. The Prime Minister must be commended for conceding to the wishes of the people in coming to the decision.

Of late BTN has come under severe criticism for its civics courses that are compulsory for civil servants and university undergraduates. The BTN was established to build the physical and mental resilience of the civil servants to boost their patriotism. It also aims to promote discipline and form the character of the civil servants to promote good attitude, values and excellent work ethics. These are undeniably noble aims that must be encouraged but the implementation of them leaves much to be desired.

Although the members of the ruling party and some Barisan Nasional(BN)ministers are adamant that the BTN courses are on tract and achieving the desired aims of inculcating the sense of patriotism among young Malaysians of all races, but the cabinet decision to revamp it is an admission of flaws in its implementation.

On the other hand the Opposition has raised concerns that these courses and closed door sessions are used by the BN to instill racial and religious ill feelings among the various races in the country. Recently a number of former participants which included Pakatan Rakyat(PR) politicians and journalists have spoken of their shocking experiences at BTN camps. They described these courses as racist brainwashing and political indoctrination programmes to ensure civil servants and students back the BN.

There has been increasing calls by many quarters to shut down these programmes as they are creating more negative than positive effects on racial and religious tolerance and integration in the country. The PR controlled states have even decided not to send their employees and students to these courses in the future.

These allegations by the opposition are serious and if they are true then there are very urgent matters to address. The activities of the BTN go against the basic principle of the 1Malaysia concept promoted by the prime minister himself. The government must continue to act to prove that it is serious about integrating the people through that policy.

Patriotism is an inherent feeling of love and pride for one’s country. It should be a commodity of all citizens regardless of their race, creed and political ideology. It cannot be instilled in the lecture room alone but by the experiences of the day to day living in an environment that is gratifying to them. This favorable environment must be created by the government with its policies that are fair to all citizens not by mere slogans and propaganda.

After 52 years of living together as fellow citizens, it is disturbing that there are still many advocating a divisive ethnic policy for the nation. Such policies are obsolete and are a sure way to failure in today’s highly competitive global world. Furthermore it is extremely sad that there still those who look at their fellow citizens of a different race with suspicion and animosity. It is unfortunate that we mistake our own brothers and sisters as enemies when the real enemy is outside waiting to prey on our weaknesses.

If we want to succeed as a nation, there is no option but for all Malaysians to put aside their differences and consider themselves as Malaysians. This is the mindset that we must adopt and instill in our children. All activities whether political, social, economic, civics or even religious must be ethnically inclusive and not divisive as they are now. It may not be easy now but if we do not start now we will never realize our dreams of a united, prosperous and progressive nation as envisaged by our founding forefathers.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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