Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Nazri finds another backer in tiff with Dr M

PETALING JAYA, Dec 8 — Gerakan President Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon has supported Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz’s stand that the National Civics Bureau (BTN) should be revamped to be in accordance with the spirit and principles of 1 Malaysia.

Koh who is also the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Unity and Performance Management, came forward to defend his colleague Nazri.

“The prime minister is aware and this (revamps) was discussed,” he said.

Koh said the thrust of 1 Malaysia as enunciated by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak encompasses acceptance and appreciation of diversity.

“The principle of nationhood according to our constitution and Rukun Negara, as well as justice and fairness for all.

“As 1 Malaysia is clearly all-inclusive, there is no room for any form of racism, extremism and hatred,” said Koh in a statement released today.

He added this principle should be the basis for the training programme to guide the attitude and behaviour of all members of the civil service and university students.

Surprised by the remarks from the Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Koh said that the former prime minister may not be aware of the latest slant in the BTN courses.

Koh himself participated in one such course with other political and corporate leaders in the mid-90s, presided personally by Dr Mahathir.

“The content of the courses emphasised on unity and understanding as well as the need to handle all issues with great care and sensitivity.

“However, recent feedback from participants since last year showed that the BTN course has diverted from its earlier version.

“Participants, including JPA scholars, felt very upset and disheartened,” he said and added that the need to revamp is based on such feedback.

The BTN runs compulsory courses for civil servants and undergraduates and has been accused of promoting hatred and racism by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders.

The PR-led Selangor government recently imposed a ban on its civil servants and students within its state-run educational institutions from attending BTN courses, while Penang — another PR- governed state — is said to be considering similar action.

But the hawks in Umno, through Malay-based dailies like Berita Harian and Utusan Malaysia, have moved to defend BTN and attacked its critics as “traitors” who are trying to politicise the issue.

On Sunday Mingguan Malaysia urged the government not to “bow down” to the opposition on BTN.

Nazri had said that BTN training modules would be revamped to better reflect the 1 Malaysia concept introduced by Najib.

However, Dr Mahathir has been defending the BTN courses, saying that the criticism against them has been exaggerated.

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