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Media statement by Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, 7th October 2010: 

Call on Najib to make a Prime Ministerial statement in Parliament on Monday on how he proposes to give local content to his international call at UNGA and ASEM 8 for a global movement of moderates against extremists

At the Eighth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 8) in Brussels on Tuesday, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak reiterated his call for a global movement of moderates from all faiths to play a dominant role in a world threatened by extremism.

This was an expansion of his call he made last month at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in which he urged nations to reclaim the centre from extremists.

At the end of his six-day visit to the United Nations and the United States, Najib was uplifted by the positive response to his call and he told the accompanying Malaysian media that Malaysia’s profile had been enhanced, particularly in the West.

I was in Melbourne when Najib made the international call for global moderation, not only making it the theme in his maiden address to the United Nations General Assembly but also publicly commending United States President Barack Obama for the latter’s “courageous public position” in dealing with Islamophobia in condemning the proposed burning of the Quran by a Florida pastor and urging Obama “to galvanise the moderates, bring in the non-governmental organizations and social movements

I immediately came out with a statement urging the Prime Minister on his return home to lead a national campaign to galvanise moderates in Malaysia against the rise of extremism, whether racial bigotry or religious intolerance, which would be fully in line with his own declaration of “Zero tolerance for racism” made just before National Day on August 31.

Najib did not do any such thing on his return home nor did he make any clarion call for moderation to reclaim the centre from extremists.

Instead, he has gone off to make another international call for a global movement of moderates at ASEM 8 in Brussels.

Najib should realize that his call for a global movement of moderates against extremists will quickly lose all credibility unless it is grounded by a national agenda against extremism, whether racial bigotry or religious intolerance.

For this reason, I call on Najib to make a Prime Ministerial statement in Parliament when it reconvenes on Monday on how he proposes to give local content to his international call at UNGA and ASEM 8 for a global movement of moderates against extremists.

This is relevant and most pressing as Najib has himself expressed concern at the rise of extremism in the country – a development which is raising increasing national and international concern as impacts adversely on Malaysia’s international competitiveness.

How can Najib’s call for a global movement of moderates be taken seriously when he is not prepared to take a stand against extremism or dissociate himself from irresponsible politicking of race or religion?

For instance, it is now 56 days but no action has been taken by his government against the two school principals who made incendiary, insensitive and racist statements against students in school, making a total mockery of Najib’s “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now” policy.

Also, how can Najib allow the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Penang Umno to continue with their irresponsible politicking to create panic among Muslim senior citizens in Penang so as to return the RM100 under the Senior Citizens Appreciation Programme on the ground that it is funded from “gambling sources” when this has been denied by the Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and Muhyiddin has not dared to respond as to whether he would return to Treasury his salaries and allowances as Federal Minister for past 15 years so as not to be associated with “forbidden” money?

Furthermore, what is Najib’s credibility in calling for a global movement of moderates when he is unable to rein in the “brain-washing” indoctrination unit, the Biro Tata Negara, in the Prime Minsiter’s Department from continuing to preach the worst forms of extremism?

As Din Merican said in his blog: “BTN had turned into a Frankenstein that has gone berserk and done harm to millions of people who call Malaysia their one and only home”, there is only one way “to strap down the monster” – “abolish the detested BTN”.

So long as outfits like BTN continues to exist in the very bowels of the Najib administration, Najib does not possess the credentials and credibility to call for a global movement of moderates against extremists.

Is Najib prepared to announce the dissolution of BTN in a Prime Ministerial statement in Parliament on Monday?

I commend Din Merican’s blog yesterday entitled “Biro Tata Negara: An Incubator or Bigotry and Intolerance” for Najib’s perusal and action:

The Biro Tata Negara (BTN) or National Civics Bureau has been hogging the limelight lately for all the wrong reasons. Ostensbily created for the purpose of fostering patriotism and “commitment to excellence”, the BTN has become an incubator of bigotry and intolerance. It turned out to be nothing more than “communal brainwashing” and is anything but civic.

It started off as an obscure agency in 1974 with an innocuous-sounding name: Youth Research Unit. It mutated into BTN at the time when Mahathir Mohamad had just assumed power. And unbeknownst to the public, the devils in the BTN had been subtlely and at times blatantly poisoning the minds of scholars, public servants, university students and youths sent there for training over the past quarter of a century.

For decades, BTN had been training and producing “graduates” to become future leaders who would come out well-rounded intellectually, emotionally, spiritually. The courses they studied had noble objectives: enhancing patriotism, strengthening self-reliance, building character and discipline, promoting excellent work ethics, and fostering a spirit of camaraderie “regardless of race”.

The goals were fine on paper but it appears they were not put into practice or had become totally irrelevant. Once shut up within the four walls of BTN, it is a fact that the “students” were subjected to racial and political indoctrination.

The products of the BTN system were there for all to see: A school principal in Johor reportedly said “Chinese students should go back to China” and likened Indian prayer strings to dog leashes. A special officer openly said that “Indians came to Malaysia as beggars and Chinese, especially women, came to sell their bodies”. A high-ranking BTN officer shocked the nation when he allegedly called Chinese “slitty eyed” and Indians “alcoholic”. These are the tip of the iceberg: more muck will float when incendiary remarks made in public or in private functions see the light of day.

The courses were also political in nature, emphasising Malay supremacy and loyalty to national leaders. According to one BTN alumnus, a song was taught with the lyrics: “the land that you walk upon is owned by others”, insinuating that the non-Malays have grabbed all the land and that it was time the Malays asserted their rights and reclaimed lost ground.

Another alumnus was put off when the trainers tarred the Chinese as the “Jews of Asia” who were engaged in a conspiracy to topple the government. Yet another participant was shocked when one lecturer blatantly declared that the Malays “were the most supreme race in the world… while the others were insignificant”. The opposition was mercilessly flayed to bring home the message that it did not pay to vote for the other side.

The BTN continues to exist in its monstrous form. Apologists like Ahmad Maslan, deputy minister in the prime minister’s department, and Mahathir were quick to defend the ogre. Maslan dismissed the whole hullabaloo as a mere slip-up by one lecturer, while Mahathir had nothing but high praise for the BTN for “inculcating the values of discipline and hard work in public servants and scholars”. Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin came out from the dark to say BTN programmes “inculcate nationalism and unity… in line with the 1Malaysia concept”. These are weak responses. Even the recent directive to all heads of government departments to check their officers from making sensitive statements is an exercise in futility. It does not address the glaring abuses in the system.

Undoubtedly, BTN has failed to discharge its duty responsibly. It has created at taxpayers’ expense and released hundreds, perhaps thousands, of bigots into the civil service and other sectors, who will continue to spew racial slurs and undermine the very concept of patriotism.

Love of country cannot exist in a cauldron of hate and spite. Moral and ethics cannot take root when public servants themselves do not show exemplary conduct. Team spirit cannot be built on the mucky soil of racism. Unity in diversity is a lost cause when the doctrine of Malay supremacy is worshipped as a national ideology. BTN is an antithesis of everything that is good, unifying, principled, decent.

BTN was recast largely in the image of Mahathir. When the aging doctor took it under his wings in the Prime Minister’s Department, the creature underwent a series of operation. Drastic changes were introduced to ensure that all who attended the courses would come out with the look of the devil in their eyes.

BTN had turned into a Frankenstein that has gone berserk and done harm to millions of people who call Malaysia their one and only home. There is only way to strap down the monster and put it to sleep: abolish the detested BTN. This calls for firm, decisive action. BTN aka Frankenstein must be consigned with all haste to the dung heap of history.

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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