BTN and Indoctrination
BTN and Indoctrination
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BTN - Between true education and indoctrination
By Azly Rahman
I agree we must give credit to those working hard to "improve the psychological well-being of the Malays" and for that matter for any race to improve its mental wellness.
This is important. This is a noble act. The question is: in doing so, do we want to plant the seeds of cooperation and trust - or racial discrimination and deep hatred? Herein lies the difference between indoctrination and education.
Herein lies what the work of Malaysia's Biro Tata Negara is about.
These days, the idea of Ketuanan Melayu is going bankrupt, sinking with the bahtera merdeka. It works only for Malay robber barons who wish to plunder the nation by silencing the masses and using the ideological state apparatuses at their disposal.
In the case of the BTN it is the work of controlling the minds of the youth. The work of BTN should be stopped and should not be allowed any more in our educational institutions. It is time our universities especially are spared of counter-educational activities, especially when they yearned to be free from the shackles of domination.
Look at what has happened and what is still happening to our institutions with the University and University Colleges Act and the Akujanji Pledge. Over decades, many millions of Malays and non-Malays have not been getting the right information on our nation's history, political-economy, and race relations.
History that is being shoved to us or filter-funneled down the labyrinth of our consciousness is one that is already packaged, biased, and propagandized by our historians that became text-books writers.
History need not be "Malay-centric"
Special rights for all Malaysians should be the goal of distributive and regulative justice of this nation, not the "special rights of a few Malays".
History must be presented as the history of the marginalized, the oppressed, and the dispossessed - of all races. We toil for this nation, as the humanist Paramoedya Ananta Toer would say, by virtue of our existence as "anak semua bangsa ... di bumi manusia".
Malaysia is a land of immigrants. In this regard we can learn from the former British colony called America. Whatever the shortcomings may be, America is a land of immigrants and still evolving. Even a Black man or a woman can become president.
This is what America conceives itself to be and this is what Malaysian can learn from. Can a non-Malay become a Prime Minster if he/she is the most ethical of all politicians in the country?
No one particular race should stake claim to Malaysia. That is an idea from the old school of thought, fast being abandoned. Each citizen is born, bred, and brought to school to become a good law-abiding and productive Malaysian citizen is accorded the fullest rights and privileges and will carry his/her responsibility as a good citizen.
That is what "surrendering one's natural rights to the State" means. One must read Rousseau, Locke, Voltaire, and Jefferson to understand this philosophy. A bad government will not honor this - and will fall, or will sink like the bahtera merdeka.
The history of civilizations provides enough examples of devastation and genocide as a consequence of violent claims to the right of this or that land based upon some idea of "imagined communities." We must teach our children to make history - a history of peace amongst nations.
This must be made into a new school of thought: of "new Bumiputeraism" that encompasses all and do not alienate any - because life is too brief for each generation to fight over greed. The eleventh hour of human existence and our emergence in this world has brought about destruction as a consequence of our inability to mediate differences based on race, color, creed, class, and national origin.
Each ethnic group thinks that it is more socially-dominant than the other. Each does not know the basis of its "self". Each failed to realize its own DNA-make up or gene map. Life is an existential state of beingness, so must history be conceived as such.
Nationalism can evolve into a dangerous concept- that was what happened to Europe at the brink of the two World Wars. It happened in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Indonesia when Suharto fell.
I argue that we must live evolvingly in the "historical presence of historical constructions". The past and the future is in the present.
Back to BTN
Courses devoid of critical treatment and sensibility and ones that retard student thinking - such as "Kenegaraan" - in our universities are designed to tell our mind to live in an imagined past.
BTN is playing this dangerous game of blind nationalism still passing down packaged information that do not take into consideration the complexities of globalization and the promise of multiculturalism. We need to offer courses such as Multiethnic Malaysia that will have students aspire to think like multiculturalists and help this nation evolve better.
The ministry of education higher education combined has hundreds of experts - many overseas trained and have tasted the "spirit of multiculturalism" and the "beauty of intellectual freedom" in their classrooms abroad - who ought to have engineered a paradigm shift to help dismantle indoctrination agencies such as Biro Tata Negara.
But where are the voices in the wilderness of our public universities - those who should be speaking up against 'Ketuanan Melayu or Ketuanan this or that race'? Why are many of these experts, instead of fighting for radical changes to affect radical-peaceful structural changes, are making big decisions to further advance the cause of racism?
One-dimensional thinking prevails - the thinking that does not allow diversity of ideas and failed to develop cross-cultural perspectives. Ideas move nations but indoctrinations remove intelligence. Political masters - however corrupt to the core they are - dictates the work of our academicians.
Whoever writes history and turn that into say, BTN propaganda, controls the future (or at least they think they do). We must question what is taught during the sessions or during any history lesson; fundamentally:
* Whose history are we studying?
* Is it meaningful to me?
* Who wrote this history? Why? Who benefits?
* Who gets included and excluded in this history textbooks?
* Who's the hero - who's the villain?
What I want to see is a stop to the systematic and ongoing stupefication of the Malays and the non-Malays and to let them be free from being run-down emotionally by boot camp facilitators who make a living humiliating people.
We have a new generation of best and brightest Malaysians to educate. As an educator I have worked with thousands of them. These are extremely creative individuals who enjoy being challenged at the most respectable and intellectual levels - not through indoctrination methods such as those used in BTN camps.
They want to be fed with more questions and not be shoved with BTN-type of answers. We cannot afford to turn term them into docile beings while at the same time we holler the slogan "human capital" or modal insan the world over. It will be a "modularly insane" human condition if we continue to capitalize on human docility.
The Biro Tata Negara as an indoctrinating institution was conceived by "intellectuals" who themselves are trapped in their own cocoon or glass coconut shell of "wrongly-defined" Malay-ness and in a paradigm that teaches a poor understanding of Malaysian history. These intellectuals are running around in our public universities promoting a more sophisticated and pseudo-intellectual version of racism.
Inciting racial sentiments in classroom and boot camps is big business nowadays - profits made in the name of patriotism. But who's monitoring the trainers? Education is not about insulting one's intelligence and instilling fear in our children.
This is what the creators of BTN need to learn. In short, the indoctrinators need a good education on how not to indoctrinate.
"Melayu 'kan hilang di nusantara ..." if we allow the dumbing down of Malaysians to continue.
Progressive parliamentarians must discuss this serious matter concerning the organization's deliberate attempt to promote disunity and to further fertilize the seeds of racism, at a time when we need to come together as Malaysians in order to face humanity's greater problem such as the food, oil, and water crisis that will plague us as human beings - at a time when we must focus on constructing a new republic of virtue that will be founded on transcultural ethics, responsive and reflective politics, and a social-democratic-based economic system that do not tempt and feed human greed of the things they do not need.
Our Asian despotic brand of capitalism continues to destroy the very foundation of our existence and our moral fibre. It is greed - big time - that brought down the National Front.
Through the work of the Rakyat, Divine intervention helped speed up the process of removal of Greed disguised as political parties in power. That's the metaphysical interpretation of March 8, 2008.
We are not running Hitler Youth camps in Malaysia. We must not even come close to setting up one.
BTN and Indoctrination
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