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“Why are Chinese [Malaysians] dangerous?”

Arif Johny Abdullah

ARIF Johny Abdullah, 34, attended his Biro Tata Negara (BTN) programme back in the 1990s when he was in secondary school. He has blogged about his experiences at the camp, including an escape from camp grounds to find replacements for participants who had broken their eggs.

Arif is a Sino-Kadazan from Sabah and officially converted to Islam in his early teens. He tells The Nut Graph that his interesting position as an East Malaysian bumiputera might be why he resisted most of what was taught during the BTN programme. He is now an operation manager at a company that manages cybercafés.

The Nut Graph sat down with Arif in Cheras on 21 Dec 2009 for this final instalment, for 2009, in our series of interviews on the BTN blues.

TNG: When and where did you attend your BTN programme?

Arif Johny Abdullah: I know it was in Perak, and I know we passed by Kellie’s Castle to get there. Tapi nama penuh kem saya tak ingat. I think it was in 1994. I was in Sekolah Menengah Seri Perak, Parit Buntar, and I think I was in Form Four.

How long did the programme last?

Itulah, saya pun tak ingat sangat. It was definitely not longer than five days. I think it was four days and three nights.

How many participants went for the programme?

I would say 150 to 200 students, boys and girls, from secondary schools throughout the Kerian district. Sebenarnya, the programme was meant for students from Institut Teknologi Mara (ITM), now Universiti Teknologi Mara, Manjung. I remember this because (former Prime Minister Tun Dr) Mahathir (Mohamad) was supposed to come and speak to them. But then Mahathir had something to do in Langkawi at that time.


Makes you special…. (source:

So they postponed the orientation for the ITM students and substituted the programme with us instead. We were told the ITM students were special, because they were going to “fly” (go to university overseas), but we were told we were special too, I don’t know why.

The participants semuanya Melayu and Muslim. I was considered Malay (Malaysian) too, even though I don’t consider myself Malay.

What about the trainers?

There were two groups of trainers. There were the facilitators who were there watching over us every day, around 15 to 20 of them. Some of them looked like former police or army personnel.

And then the second group consisted of the external speakers who came in to give us lectures. There were around five of them, including lecturers from public universities, I can’t remember which ones, and the former speaker of the Dewan Rakyat. All the trainers were Malay (Malaysian) Muslims, and most of them were men.

What was a typical day like during the programme?

Biasalah, we all had to get up before subuh (dawn prayers). On one of the nights, we had to stay up and do qiamullail (doctrinally, these are optional night-time prayers). The strange thing is that one of the days of the camp was a Friday, and we didn’t go to the mosque for (obligatory) prayers. Maybe they were trying to isolate us that strictly, saya tak tahu.


The activities, macam biasa — lectures, group activities, and don’t forget the singing. We all had to learn that song, Warisan, you know? It’s a very sweet song, tapi I realised its true meaning (about Malay supremacy).

They turned off the lights in the room and taught us the song. It was very psychological. After singing the song, some of the participants started crying, especially the girls.

Was there anything else about the programme that was racist? Was there opposition-bashing?

Of course. At that time, PAS wasn’t as strong as it is now, but they were still accused of ajaran sesat. The speakers said PAS was using religion to gain power, and it was mixing religion and politics. DAP also of course kena — apparently it was anti-Melayu because of its “Malaysian Malaysia” slogan. At that time, I didn’t even know what the DAP was.

During one of the lectures, one of the external speakers asked us, “Do you know why Chinese (Malaysians) are dangerous?” He continued, “The Chinese (Malaysians) in Melaka bury their weapons in one of their cemeteries, and are waiting for the day when they can gali these weapons and lawan ‘us’ for real.” Of course, I don’t have a voice recording of this or anything, but I remember it very clearly.

How did you feel when you heard all of this?

kampung house

“I don’t equate kampung culture with Malay culture” (© sophokles / Wiki Commons)

Conflicted, of course. I had never considered myself Malay, even though I’m familiar with Malay culture and kampung culture. I don’t equate kampung culture with Malay culture. For example, when my friends taught me how they eat with their fingers and so on. To me, that’s cara orang kampung, that’s all.

But I was lucky because I wasn’t alone in feeling this way during the programme. I had Malay (Malaysian) friends who were angry, too. They were not exactly angry about the content at that point, but more because we were all forced to attend against our will. You know, we were only told the day before we went that we needed to attend the programme. That was during the weekend, and my friends and I were all hostel boarders. Our plans for the weekend, including those who wanted to balik kampung, were ruined just like that.

So how did you change after the camp?

Shamsiah Fakeh’s memoirs were published in 2004

I don’t know, but maybe this experience aroused my curiosity and has caused me to fight back until now. I was an ordinary student before attending the camp. In school, orang yang kami tak suka kami akan momok-momokkan by calling them Chin Peng or Shamsiah Fakeh. But I don’t know, maybe BTN changed me and made me want to find out more about them.

I still did not consider myself Malay even after attending the programme. I mean, at that time I didn’t know what “racism” was, I just knew that I didn’t like what was being taught during the programme.

And like I said, the good thing is there were those of us who didn’t agree with the camp and stuck together. We couldn’t fight back openly, we still had to mengalah in front of the facilitators. But we stuck together even after returning to school. I ended up getting involved in the Reformasi movement during the 1999 general election. And when I voted in March 2008, I voted for Dr Lo’ Lo’ Mohamad Ghazali from PAS.

Do you think the programme had anything good about it?

The group activities, the marching drills, the motivational talks — these were actually good. But then, the facilitators would justify every single activity by saying, “This is why Malay (Malaysians) must work hard, otherwise ‘they’ will rob us of this country.” The activities were good, but their motivations were racist. favicon

See also:
Learning about “hak istimewa orang Melayu”
Anwar Ibrahim, Jewish agent?
BTN’s stolen Malaysians

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33 Responses to ““Why are Chinese [Malaysians] dangerous?””

  1. Steven Ong says:

    This thing happening in bolehland was normal, may God bless them.

  2. BBpeep says:

    I have heard of Chinese [Malaysian] friends’ children who were on JPN scholarship, attending similar courses. They were told to be grateful to have received scholarships that are meant for Malay [Malaysians].They got jeered and made to feel bad and guilty to have taken what does not belong to them. Please publicise this to get a first hand interview.

    Editor’s note: We would certainly be grateful if you could e-mail us at [email protected] to let us know whom we can contact to secure this interview. Many thanks.

    Shanon Shah
    Columns and Comments Editor

  3. Bob says:

    What will happen for the Chinese [Malaysians] then?

  4. William says:

    Horrific brainwashing programme and it obstructs a nation that wants to be developed and the races live peacefully. Short-sighted politicians in BN…sigh…

  5. Paul says:

    In fact, I love reading interviews such as this. You know, it was amazing when I was coming to Malaysia to study. But when I got here, I was totally disappointed with the kind of racism in schools, society and even law enforcement officers (police). If [only] what I have been reading in daily newspapers were true about 1Malaysia and freedom of speech, movement, religious, and [other] fundamental human rights. The Malaysian government should strive hard to do more in order to correct some lapses among its citizens, society and nation. Truly, this is a Muslim country but [should also be] an international country that welcomes different people.

  6. hanisma says:

    The bigoted Malay [Malaysians] believe that when a non-Malay [Malaysian] is a Muslim convert, automatically he/she is a Malay. He/she should use the hand and not chopsticks or fork and spoon when eating during a ‘kenduri’. He/she should also use baju kurung, no more sari, cheongsam or samfoo. If this convert does not really practise the five tenets of Islam, it is of not much concern for them. They are only concerned that this convert must speak Bahasa Melayu and follow the Malay culture and tradition. What shallow mentality!

  7. Dumbfounded says:

    To all readers, pls google “Hitler Jugend” and you’ll see the horrifying similarities with BTN.

  8. Sam says:

    It’s pathetic. The race that forms 60% of the population and controls the government, army, police, civil service, Bank Negara, judiciary and every single public institution is fearing Chinese [Malaysians] and has no confidence in itself. What a shame that it has to resort to instilling fear to remain in power.

    It’s like a lion fearing a rabbit.

  9. Melayu-pretender says:

    The whites in South Africa OPENLY declared, used and implemented the Apartheid system because whites have [guts].

    Umno Melayu and Melayu-pretenders in Malaysia are still practising the Apartheid system but have no [guts] to declare it openly as Apartheid. These people are just cowards. No [guts] to face the world because they are weak.

  10. “The activities were good, but their motivations were racist.” I think this sums up the whole BTN fiasco accurately.

  11. hkkhan says:

    Racism is going to rule as the communities are set, stuck in the identification with their own racial origin. Deeper is the security of belonging to a tribal group, thinking that as an individual one’s weak, vulnerable but the group represents a huge force, a big voice and will render protection to its members. But if we go down one level, our common denominator is we are all human beings. The greatness of a human being does not lie with race or skin colour nor even position or education, but with his/her greatness as a person of truth, righteousness or goodwill. Gandhi, Albert Schweitzer or Martin Luther King are great not because of their racial origins but because of the greatness of their spirit.

    Unfortunately race is exploited for political reasons and the prejudice sown is too deep-seated to be transcended by most people. Few are great souls. So I think racism is going to stay and will be made use of with no end.

    Let’s suppose if one were able to wipe out all the Chinese and Indians in the country, do you think the quarreling will ever stop? I doubt it. The fighters for power will not harp on race but on other things like ideology, religious interpretation, policies, etc. Ever now there are internal strifes in some parties.

    There will be conflicts unless one roots out one’s self-centredness and terrible selfishness within which one’s life is lived and strangled.

  12. Porkquepine says:

    But isn’t it true that the Chinese [Malaysian] population have hidden agenda to overrun the Malay [Malaysians] and take over the country as they did in Singapore?

  13. chow kw says:

    Sheer hypocrisy and propaganda. Malaysians are generally friendly people but years of spinning by the media has brought division and destruction to our nation. Our country leadership produce the best slogans – clean and efficient government – engines missing in 2007 but discovered and revealed in 2009. I wonder what else is missing? Look at the state of our judiciary – a royal commission was constituted to investigate the correct, correct, correct case and what happened now. Nothing is happening – case closed. Malaysia is a land of plenty. So plenty of surprises too. Good luck Malaysia.

  14. Johan says:

    Pakat-pakatlah kita tukar kerajaan jahat dalam pilihanraya akan datang. Kita akan ajar mereka cara memerintah dengan baik tanpa mengira bangsa. Umno dah lama jual Melayu untuk kuasa dan poket mereka penuh dengan duit rasuah. Sekarang mereka berlakon nak jadi baik. Kehilangan enjin jet adalah lambang ajaran pemimpin Umno yang rakus. Bak kata orang, “Kalau pemimpin boleh sapu, kami orang bawahan nak merasa juga.”

    Saya Melayu cuma saya tidak suka Umno.

  15. aslen says:

    I don’t agree at all. I attended the BTN course just few years back. My group consisted of a mixture of Malay, Indian and Chinese [Malaysians]. Tiada pengisian racist langsung sepanjang kursus, yang ada cuma penananam semangat cintakan tanahair regardless of your background. So, to say that the BTN course is racist, I don’t agree at all!

    Editor’s note: Would you be willing to do an interview with us on your experiences? At a forum in Petaling Jaya last night, there were also other members in the audience who said that their BTN experiences did not include racist indoctrination. If you are interested in an interview, do write to [email protected]. Thanks.

    Shanon Shah
    Columns and Comments Editor

    • mykantree says:

      It’s self-explanatory as to why aslen’s experience and opinion are in disagreement with the general view of the BTN course. There is no doubt that BTN courses are tailor-made to impart the sentiments that are targeted for its gathered composition.

  16. Biro says:

    If May 13 can happen, why not BTN?

  17. jiminy qrikert says:

    Porkquepine, yes, it is absolutely true that Chinese Malaysians have a hidden agenda to eventually over-run Malays and turn Malaysia into high-achieving nation, just like Singapore. They will achieve this objective by voting BN and supporting Najib, burying Gerakan through losing Penang, tearing MCA asunder through their greed for power, reducing the Chinese [Malaysian] birth-rate to eventually achieve a grand ratio of 18.3% by 2035, and then just 10% of total M’sian population by 2050.

    You see, the devious Chinese [Malaysians] know that when you have a smaller family, each child gets better education and has more of a chance of success in life. In fact, most Chinese [Malaysians] will gravitate to a one-child family in the next 25 years. What can you expect from a race that glorifies the accumulation of wealth through sheer hard work, saving for the future, prudent spending and smart financial management? I am sure you know the Chinese [Malaysians] are scrooges who hide the fact that they are actually wealthy by buying modest houses and driving small, fuel-efficient cars. In fact the Chinese [Malaysians] can hide so well, you won’t know where to find them come 2050 but you will know you have been ‘over-run.’

  18. Macharic says:

    It’s shocking that M’sians are cultivating and raising racists and bigots. While the whole world is moving forward and beyond the racial and religious lines, M’sians are happily moving backwards with this [rubbish]! Shame on us!

  19. j t says:

    We have a wonderful Malaysian boarding at our home on an exchange programe, Kelly is warm and friendly so I thought maybe I’d send my younger one who is a bit hard to handle to Malaysia for college and learn a bit of the culture. But now I’m hearing all this so please tell me this is not true.

    Editor’s note: What nature of truth are you looking for? As far as the testimonies of those The Nut Graph has interviewed are concerned for this series, we and our interviewees have tried our best to be as accurate as possible – this is the stuff of memory, after all. But as for whether these testimonies are “true” in that they are representative of all former BTN inductees – no authoritative survey or study has been carried out yet. It is hard to tell if one will ever be done, even given the current controversy surrounding the BTN. It would be a lie to say that racism doesn’t exist in Malaysia, but it would also be a lie to say that Malaysians are predominantly racist. Look at the interviews in Found in Malaysia for proof:

    Shanon Shah
    Columns and Comments Editor

  20. Orang Melayu says:

    Actually there is no racism in Malaysia, it’s something that is called “discrete apartheid” and it’s far worse than racism.

  21. Chinaman says:

    I just can’t hold my opinion back anymore.

    “But isn’t it true that the Chinese [Malaysian] population have hidden agenda to overrun the Malay [Malaysians] and take over the country as they did in Singapore?”

    Yes it is true.

  22. avanza1 says:

    hanisma Posted: 23 Dec 09 : 3.14PM
    The bigoted Malay [Malaysians] believe that when a non-Malay [Malaysian] is a Muslim convert, automatically he/she is a Malay.

    Dumbfounded Posted: 23 Dec 09 : 3.30PM

    To all readers, pls google “Hitler Jugend” and you’ll see the horrifying similarities with BTN.


    It’s no surprise.. read more about Mufti Al-Husseini and Hitler and piece them together…Using race card to further Islamic political power.

  23. malaun says:

    Itu lembu BTN memang lembu dan kerbau,eh? When are you going to hell?


    Editor’s note: Don’t know – do you have a direct line with God to let us know? 🙂

    Shanon Shah
    Columns and Comments Editor

  24. Sean says:

    “A lie to say that Malaysians are predominantly racist.”
    [citation needed]

    50-odd years of voting for racists says otherwise.

    Editor’s note: Perhaps this “justification” of yours that Malaysians are “predominantly racist” is overtly simplistic. Perhaps what you view as “predominance” and “Malaysian” is a bit different.

    Shanon Shah
    Columns and Comments Editor

  25. Gopal Raj Kumar says:

    This is no different to what non-Chinese are inculcated with in training at Singapore’s armed forces and their public service training camps.

    Shanon Shah you ought to get more real with your counterparts on the one hand lobbying for the return [of] Chin Peng […] then feigning outrage at what this [individual] claims to have experienced then printing the slur without proof.

    You and your publication continually censor what others write here which you disagree with on purely political grounds yet you are prepared to suspend those same “standards” of The Nut Graph when it suits you politically.

    You are guilty of promoting anti-Malay [Malaysian], anti-Islamic sentiments using The Nut Graph.

    You are nothing short of being a yellow-livered coward and an abject unmitigated racist. A Guju at that too.


    What’s a Guju? And my heartfelt thanks for your feedback even though we have never met and I have no idea how you know what colour my liver is, and a Happy New Year to you. We appreciate your continual support and readership of The Nut Graph.

    Shanon Shah
    Columns and Comments Editor

  26. PH Chin says:

    I think when the powers-that-be planned and implemented the BTN, they did not foresee the power of internet and Google.

    Now everyone can Google and find out the horrifying similarity between the BTN and “Hitler Jurgen”.

  27. Main says:

    …and that’s why those ‘racist’ facilitators were kicked out of it. There were no formal complaints I guess and no wind of wanting to change until somebody made a fuss about it. If the program stayed true to its purposes then there’s no need to cancel it, just change those facilitators and observe them while they execute their duties.

  28. kahseng says:

    Dumbfounded Posted: 23 Dec 09 : 3.30PM
    To all readers, pls google “Hitler Jugend” and you’ll see the horrifying similarities with BTN.


    Fascism is indeed a probable path for Malaysia if we don’t stop it.

    Without reform, we are likely to have economic failure from loss of industry and competition, back-breaking national debt, police oppression, uncontrollable RELA, manipulated judiciary, and ineffective Parliament.

    We have had a prime minister who had been minister of defence for a long time, now cleaning up dissidents in the ranks with the missing plane engine issues, with an eager cousin for interior minister, and complying MACC and SPR.

    Then we have a people tolerant of a coup and breakdown of state constitution in Perak, and deaths in custody …

    If the world economy turns down [it] will likely lead to prolonged youth unemployment, [then] BTN is just the tool to turn the youths into ultra-right-wing nationalist extremists.

    Racism and fascism are close cousins if not twins.

  29. KW Mak says:

    Off topic, but I think maybe ‘guju’ stands for:

    Slang for a person from the state of Gujarat in India. Known to be stingy, but are some one of the best businessmen/women, always get the best side of the bargain.

    Sourced from:

    Editor’s note: Thanks, Mak. It’s a wholely inaccurate term to describe me though. I do not trace any ancestry to Gujarat. Some from Punjab and Rajasthan, maybe.

    Shanon Shah
    Columns and Comments Editor

  30. Sean says:

    I wasn’t trying to justify anything Shanon – your strong statement caught my eye and reminded me (in counterpoint) of Mahathir’s defence of racist politicking. The two points of view strike me as wishful thinking presented as fact.

    If you’re going to call ‘lie’ on simplistic statements, you really ought to provide justification. I could have said that in my comment, but I was hoping to avoid pedantry. Your first ‘lie’ statement (“lie to say racism doesn’t exist in Malaysia”) is supported by dozens of good (terrible?) examples in the news every day. Your second ‘lie’ statement is not evidently true. I can read the content you refer to as ‘proof’, but unless you have 15+ million such interviews with reasonable, respectable Malaysians – or your interviewees are statistically representative – your ‘lie’ statement isn’t justified. If your interviewee selection method really is unbiased, you have my most profound apology. But those few, lovely people in ‘Found in Malaysia’ are not an unbiased, random selection, are they? Perhaps I’ve just lived in statistical outlier Malaysian neighbourhoods and read statistical outlier blogs and forums, but *my* exposure to the opinions of Malaysians would make me suspect (but possibly not assert) that ‘Found in Malaysia’ does *not* represent the predominant local attitude to matters pertaining to race.

    This is an exceedingly dull comment. If you’d written “…a lie to say that all Malaysians are racist”, I could have silently nodded at your choice of words. Perhaps next time I suspect you’re employing positive affirmation, I’ll try to avoid typing the spastic cynical response. I’m not at all convinced I have the required level of self control.


    I understand your point. It was an error on my part to claim that it is “a lie” that most Malaysians are racist. I apologise for that. But I was also subsequently responding to a sweeping statement on your part, your justifying predominant racism among Malaysians going merely by election results of the past five decades.

    My point is merely this: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Right now the jury is still out on whether Malaysians are predominantly racist. It is dishonest to claim that they are, and (as you have pointed out with my slip of the fingers) it is equally dishonest to claim that they aren’t. I suppose that was the point I was trying to get at when I juxtaposed my two ideas, but the choice of words was, as you say, careless.

    Thanks for pointing it out, and thanks for clarifying the discussion.

    Shanon Shah
    Columns and Comments Editor

  31. racist 2 says:

    The author is more careless than BTN…What a joker.

  32. Sad says:

    I think this article itself is very sad. It’s very sad because the article clearly points its finger single handedly at the Malays as a race. Malays and their superiority, right? Big deal. You probably forgot to ask people from other races who went to Chinese schools, eh?

    I don’t know who the people behind this website are, but as a Malay growing up in a rural area of Malaysia, I always saw it first hand, even now, after so many years, that in kampungs, the races are divided. You see, the adults from different races can mingle with each other and do their everyday routines like buying/selling stuff with each other just fine. But when it comes to intimate conversations, friends they hang out with, the neighborhood they live in, they always stick with their own race. Malays stay with Malays, Chinese stay with Chinese. There aren’t many Indians where I used to live, so I can’t say.

    And the kids? You’ll see Chinese kids with Chinese kids, Malay kids with Malay kids, even in schools. I’ve never, I repeat, never seen Malay kids hang out with Chinese kids in the rural areas of Malaysia that I visited.

    I remember when this one Chinese guy in my kampung wanted to marry a Malay woman, the mothers from each side went ballistic like the sky was going to fall on their heads.

    My opinion is that, vernacular schools breed racism. I am a product of MARA schools, I don’t know about other people from these schools, but I got to be friends with lots of Chinese in my university years, so I learnt to be a lot more open. Most of my Chinese friends came from around the Klang Valley, and these days, when I go back to my hometown, I still see how different my Chinese friends are from the Chinese in my hometown. It’s because most Chinese in my hometown went to either all-Chinese schools, or public schools that have Chinese majority in it.

    All-Malay schools, all-Chinese schools, all-Indian schools WILL breed racists […], trust me. It’s inevitable. Think about it.

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