KUALA LUMPUR, June 15 — The National Civics Bureau (BTN) claims that racism can unite a race for a “good purpose” as Malaysia struggles to deal with inter-ethnic tensions that have bubbled up the last few years.
In another set of slides uploaded on its website titled “Rasis”, the government agency claimed that racism has instead received a “negative connotation” as the idea is being used by certain parties to achieve their political goals and topple the government.
“The reality is, the minorities in Malaysia have possessed what was mentioned in human rights,” according to the content of the slide first uploaded on March 11.
It claimed that the concept of “racism” had initially originated from the Islamic concept of “asabiyyah”, a positive idea that centred on brotherhood and formed social solidarity in historical Muslim civilisations.
The term “asabiyyah”, originally meaning “tribalism”, was popularised by 14th century Arab historian Ibn Khaldun to describe “social cohesion”.
According to BTN, the concept of racism started being described as negative when Germans and Thais started using it for their political agenda, in addition to several races who proclaimed themselves as the “chosen ones”, such as the Jews, the Chinese, the Serbs, and the Russians.
It also claimed that racism was tainted with racial oppression and poverty among the ethnic Hispanics and African-Americans, and the apartheid policy in South Africa.
The slides then refuted claims that Malaysia is a racist country, pointing out that ethnic Chinese tycoons dominated the list of top 10 richest Malaysians, and the Christians, who make up 9.1 per cent of the population, are allowed to build a grand church complex.
Earlier today, Malay Mail Online reported that independent book publishers have been tarred by the BTN as masterminds of an “anti-establishment” movement to influence youths voting in the 14th general election, in another set of presentation slides.
Despite denials by the government and the agency, sporadic leaks of closed-door events conducted by the BTN or featuring its staff have continued to entrench suspicions that the bureau was a hotbed of racism and “brainwashing”.
A senior BTN official caused an uproar back in 2010 when word leaked that he had used the terms “si mata sepet” and “si botol” at a closed-door Puteri Umno gathering to describe the Chinese and Indians respectively.
The terms are considered derogatory with “si mata sepet” meaning slit-eyed and “si botol”, alcoholic, in Malay.