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Government Decision To Retain BTN Disappointing

The federal government’s decision to retain the Biro Tata Negara (BTN) is disappointing.

As has been stressed time and time again, not only by politicians in Pakatan Harapan but also media and civil society stakeholders, the BTN has had a highly negative impact.

It has become a tool for political propaganda as well as inciting hatred and fear among the different racial and religious groups. We have also committed in Buku Harapan to abolish BTN.

Moreover, the Minister of Youth and Sports Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman was reported as saying on 9 July 2018—less than a month ago—that “BTN will be abolished.”

What has changed since then?

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Farid Md Rafik has of course promised that the BTN’s modules will be “fine-tuned” and “rebranded”.

I do not doubt that, in good faith, he believes that this can and will be done.

However, similar promises have been made in the past without any impact.

The leaders of Pakatan Harapan must realise that the coalition was voted into government to reform Malaysia.

“Reform” must also include the political sphere—indeed, all other changes will fail without it.

A body like BTN, which seeks to in effect control the thoughts of Malaysian citizens, is archaic in this 21st Century. Whether BTN promotes the ideals of Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Harapan, it still goes against the norms of a modern democratic state.

Abolishing it can be done without infringing on anyone’s rights or interests. Full time BTN employees can be transferred to other departments.

All that matters is whether the government has the political will to do so or not.

Malaysians are watching the government’s every move and their estimation of it will rise or fall on how it performs in implementing its election promises.

The BTN must be abolished, full stop.