Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz lashed out at former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today for the latter's apparent inconsistencies over patriotism amidst continued public debate over the controversial Biro Tata Negara (BTN) courses.
Speaking to reporters in Parliament, Nazri said he agreed with the former prime minister's opinions on patriotism but stressed that "patriotism is not only for the Malays".
According to Nazri, Mahathir would speak of patriotism and of being united as Malaysians while he was still prime minister but had changed his tone after resigning from office.
"Now that he’s not prime minister, you read his blog. It’s bloody racist. I don’t like that. You must be a Malaysian whether you’re a minister or not. You must walk your talk," Nazri said.
Nazri was responding to Mahathir's comments on Sunday, Dec 6, where the latter said that a revamp of the BTN was unnecessary because the curriculum had helped promote unity and patriotic spirit among all Malaysians.
Mahathir's opinion is at odds with Nazri's earlier announcement that the government would revamp the national civics course.
Nazri denied that the proposed revamp stemmed from the Selangor goverment's move to ban its civil servants, employees in state subsidiaries and students in state-owned educational institutions from participating.
The minister reiterated that the Cabinet had made the decision shortly after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak took over the reigns of the country to bring the BTN syallabus in line with Najib's 1Malaysia slogan.
The Padang Rengas member of parliament added that it was important for the BTN, which was funded by public money, to "not only concentrate on one community".
"Malaysia is for all races so I disagree with any syllabus that only concentrates on patriotism for just on one community.
"If they have a problem with that, I want to know what their problem is. Do they want to say that Malaysia belongs only to the Malays and the government is only a Malay government?" Nazri asked.
Nazri also urged Utusan Malaysia not to go into "denial syndrome" over the issue because BTN's syllabus was known to all, including members of the opposition who were previously involved in the BTN course.
According to Nazri, these included Selangor state executive council Datuk Dr Hasan Mohamed Ali who was formerly deputy director of BTN, PKR's Sungai Petani member of parliament Datuk Johari Abdul who was a BTN director and PKR election director Saifuddin Nasution who was a course facilitator.
"They [the opposition] all know what the syllabus is all about so who are we to say that it did not happen? You want to lie? You make people laugh. There are people who attended the courses who came out very angry," Nazri said.
Pressed if he admitted that BTN was "used for racism", Nazri said, "How can I deny [it]?"
"Agi Idup Agi Ngelaban"