MOHD Khalid Mohd Nor, 27, attended the Biro Tata Negara (BTN) programme in 2002. Back then, he was a Public Services Department (JPA) scholar about to be sent to Germany to attend university. Khalid is now in London finishing his PhD in advanced manufacturing technologies. He is not on a government scholarship anymore.
The Nut Graph will continue to publish testimonies of former BTN programme inductees for as long as we receive these public testimonies. We believe these stories remain important until the government takes responsibility over how the publicly funded programmes were run to disunite Malaysians.
Indeed, these stories provide important documentation of a programme under the Prime Minister’s Department that until recently was shrouded in secrecy. Here is Khalid’s testimony of his BTN experience, sent to The Nut Graph via e-mail.
TNG: Where did you attend your BTN course?
Mohd Khalid Mohd Nor: Ulu Sepri, Negeri Sembilan.
How long did it last?
Four days and three nights, if I am not mistaken.
What would you say was the racial composition of the participants? How many participants were there?
The participants were only those in my batch who had qualified after their A-Level examinations. We were students from the Overseas Preparatory Programme (PPP), now known as the International Education Centre, located on the Universiti Teknologi Mara campus in Section 17, Shah Alam.
In my batch, around 120 students qualified. If I am not mistaken, there were around 40 non-Malay [Malaysian] students at least. We [Malay Malaysians and non-Malay Malaysians] were all JPA scholars.
What was the racial composition of the trainers/facilitators?
The facilitators were all Malay [Malaysian]. They looked like former police or military personnel. They were really strict.
Other than the facilitators, I cannot remember if there were other outside speakers. But for sure, those who gave the motivation talks or trash talk were all Malay [Malaysians].
Describe a typical day’s programme during the course, from the time you woke up until the time you went to sleep.
For the Malay [Malaysians], the day might have started slightly earlier as we needed to do our morning prayers first. The day started before sunrise — everything was still dark. Once we finished bathing and had breakfast, we would assemble in the main hall.
In the hall, the day would start with us singing Negaraku and I think there was a camp song — I have totally forgotten the lyrics. We would then start listening to a whole series of ceramah about nationalism as we were all bound for Germany. Aside from the talks, there were group activities. We normally ended the day at midnight.
On one of the days, the Malay [Malaysians] had qiamullail, where we stayed in the surau the whole night reciting verses from the Qur’an and performing optional prayers until [the time for obligatory dawn prayers].
Where did the participants sleep? In big dormitories or small rooms?
We all slept in dormitories with bunk beds. The camp in Ulu Sepri looked relatively new.
Outside of the sessions, was there inter-racial/inter-religious/mixed-gender mingling?
Yes, there was mingling among the races and sexes, since we had all studied at the same place for the previous two years. When I was [in the course], I overheard one of the facilitators saying they were surprised to see other races, [since we had come from] UiTM. When they thought of UiTM, they assumed only Malay [Malaysians] were attending.
Were any of the lectures racist in nature? Can you describe one that was particularly disturbing?
I believe our BTN course was catered for Malay [Malaysians], and they were surprised to see other races as well. Therefore the facilitators needed to devise a plan on how to deliver the real message or purpose of BTN.
On the last day, we all assembled just outside the main hall with our belongings. The final speech was given to all of us. Suddenly, only Malay [Malaysian] students were requested to assemble in the surau. We were all surprised. Then it all started. They gave us a piece of paper which I think contained the song Warisan. Before singing, they gave short lectures on [Malayness], ketuanan Melayu and so on.
They [said] other races were not welcome in Malaysia and we must protect our country before we Malay [Malaysians] became slaves or hamba in our own country. I was surprised that they were like this. The worst part was, these hate speeches were delivered in a surau.
Most of the [other Malay Malaysian participants] came from boarding schools, such as the Mara Junior Science Colleges. So some of them agreed with what was presented by the facilitators. Another friend and I could not accept what was presented as we were both from day schools, where we had mingled with all races since childhood. I have mingled with all races since I was in Standard One.
Aside from that, there was this one pak cik who commented on Buddhist and Hindu statues and temples. He was making fun of how the statues were, and also I think he made some sexual comments about those statues. He said the statues of Buddha are fat due to eating too much. This, however, was not done in the surau. It was during one of the team-building sessions. I remembered some non-Malay [Malaysian] friends in that group got upset. He apologised to them eventually.
In my opinion, these incidents show that the facilitators were intolerant towards other Malaysians.
Were any of these lectures documented? Was there a written syllabus for the course? Or was the content communicated verbally/through other means?
I think there were some lectures documented, but those did not have racial content. If it did contain racial stuff, the camp might have erupted from day one. I might still have some stuff from BTN at home, but unfortunately, I threw the paper containing the song that was presented to us in the surau [out of] the bus window as we left the camp.
How did the course impact you? How did it impact the other participants, from your observation?
The course has impacted me in a negative way — I am now more racist towards [fellow] Malay [Malaysians]. Not to all Malay [Malaysians], but to some. I am unsure of my other friends, but I am really disturbed by this, and this is the true reflection of our country.
There are still [Malay Malaysians] who consider non-Malay [Malaysians] in my generation as not worthy of calling Malaysia their home. If not Malaysia, which place are they supposed to call home? They are not migrants but Malaysians.
I am racist towards Malay [Malaysians] who are racist towards other races. Currently the Malaysian government is sending lecturers abroad to complete their masters and PhDs so as to upgrade the Malaysian education system. These lecturers are from government-funded universities.
In my university here [in London], they [have] started a society, but this society only [comprises] Malay [Malaysians] even though they [know] there are other Malaysians here as well. These lecturers will one day go back and start teaching at various institutions and shape future generations.
[My analogy is], if the mould has rough surfaces or edges, how could this mould shape future generations so as to build a truly [united] Malaysia?
Are there any positive things about the course you observed?
I personally did not gain anything positive from the BTN.
Losing the BTN plot
BTN’s stolen Malaysians
“Why are Chinese [Malaysians] dangerous?”
Anwar Ibrahim, Jewish agent?
Learning about “hak istimewa orang Melayu”
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Yesterday, there were news reports that Nasir Safar, special officer to Prime Minister Najib, was in hot soup for “stinging” “racist” remarks he made at the recent ‘Rapat 1Malaysia’ seminar. He was reported to have sprinkled his comments with “pendatang” labels (aimed at the Chinese and Indian [Malaysians]), and even went as far as to say that Chinese women “come here to ‘jual tubuh’ (flesh trade)” as well as threaten “to ‘revoke’ the citizenship of those who were vocal about the subject cap for the SPM examination” (in relation to a push for Tamil subjects to be included).
Nasir has since denied the allegations, but reportedly 60 to 70 MCA, MIC and NGO reps decided to leave the seminar due to the remarks he made and police reports against Nasir were to be made, so it may be a case of there is no smoke without a fire.
I wonder just how such “insensitive” “racist of the highest order” comments came about. I ponder on the similarity with allegations and testimonies of what went on in some BTN courses.
If Nasir, aide to Najib, had said what he said, was it a fruit of the BTN programs? Or were BTN courses, in the form they have been held, the fruit of such government personnel? Or are both possibilities true to some degree?
My mind wanders to to other personalities, including one currently in the limelight – Ibrahim Ali of Perkasa.
It’s our fault to have chosen the wrong people/party to form the government, we must do something to correct the mistakes.
Farouq Omaro says
The song Warisan Anak Kecil Main Api brings tears to my eyes as it reminds me of the Kadazan/Dusun/Murut community in Sabah who [face] immigrants from Sulawesi, southern Philippines, North West Frontier Province of Pakistan and Southern India. This is a great song, except the last line which could be changed to suit the social context of Sabah. How about Momogun Akan Megah di Negeri Sabah! I am sure the song would bring tears to indigenous Sabahans like it did to Dr Mahathir, especially now that even using Allah is being questioned!
Ragavan Nambiar says
This is the typical stand of Umno, thanks to [Mahathir]. [Nasir’s resignation] is a joke. It appears to be a staged performance. [Nasir] was allowed to insult almost half of the population of this country and then was allowed to resign. His resignation is also staged. He [could] be given another post and a good allowance, salary and payments. It is a joke. He should be charged under the Sedition Act. Since police reports had been made, let us see if the AG has the guts to charge [him]. I only wish the MCA, MIC and the NGOs had taken off their shoes and thrown them at [him].
Did not the Nazis have similar programmes for the German (Aryan) youth during the 1930s and early 40s? And we all (at least who know history) know what happened. People like Nasir Safar are the result of such programmes, a living example.
Thanks to apanama this nation is being separated right down the middle. This guy is the real culprit for the destruction of this beautiful nation. Tunku could see through him, his natural dislike for non-Malay [Malaysians] but alas what could Tunku do. Apanama’s dirty work is fully played out now. Sad, very sad.