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Cool Hand Luke
09-12-2003, 11:03 AM
The Straits Times Singapore (9th December 2003)

Don't be Softies, Najib tells first NS Conscripts

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia has drafted 85,000 teenagers for a new mandatory national service scheme and has told reluctant recruits not to be 'softies'. Young people will find out from today whether they have been chosen at random by a computer search that used quotas based on gender, ethnicity and location. The draftees will have to take part in three months of basic military training as well as community service, and will take lessons in leadership and responsibility starting next February, Defence Minister Najib Razak said yesterday.

'There is no escape. The scheme will not only benefit the nation, but it will benefit participants personally,' he told a press conference. Officials said the plan will help to stem religious extremism and instil patriotism in mostly Muslim Malaysia's young people. But critics fear it will be used to indoctrinate participants with pro-government rhetoric and steer them away from the fundamentalist Parti Islam SeMalaysia. Recruits - who were drawn from a pool of 480,000 people born in 1986 - will be placed in 42 camps nationwide, Datuk Seri Najib said. He said teenagers would be able to call a hotline as of today to discover whether they had been selected.

Responding to doubts by some parents and teenagers over whether the scheme was necessary, he said officials had planned a 'productive' programme that would not be a waste of time. It would be shorter and less physically demanding compared with national service training in many other countries. Datuk Seri Najib cited the example of neighbouring Singapore, where every able-bodied male must do at least two years of full-time military duty. Afterwards, they undergo annual training for 13 years.

'Singaporeans don't complain,' he said.

'Don't tell me Malaysians are such softies to be complaining.'

Most of those chosen have just graduated from high school and those who plan to further their studies will have the next several months free. But many resent the national service scheme because it will prevent them from taking up temporary jobs or travelling on vacations. The scheme is timed so as not to conflict with the tertiary academic year in Malaysia, which starts around June. Recruits enrolled in foreign universities where studies begin earlier may be able to appeal.

One teenager, Tee Ann Jie, said the scheme should be voluntary. 'National service is not going to accomplish anything but cause frustration and intense displeasure,' he wrote in a letter published at the weekend by The Star newspaper. 'Forcing us to do something is not the way to endear our country to us.'

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By the way, do any of you good people have the full programmes of the NS? I do not think it makes much sense to compare it to Singapore's NS where primarily it is to trained its citizens to defend its country. In the newly concorted Malaysia's NS, parents have a right to be concerned. One question which springs to mind straight away would be "Who would be teaching my kid? What are their qualifications? What are their abilities in terms of counselling and helping?"

Cool Hand Luke
10-12-2003, 11:52 AM
Teens display mixed Emotions over National Service list

KUALA LUMPUR: The 17-year-olds who checked to see if they were among the 85,000 selected for next year’s inaugural national service programme went through a host of conflicting emotions for very different reasons. Many called the hotline or made inquiries via SMS with a sense of trepidation and news about their status brought forth a huge sigh of relief from some and indignation or despair among others.

Ilani Mohd Jamin’s high hopes of joining the service were dashed when she found out her name was not on the list. “I was very disappointed not to be selected as I was looking forward to having a one-of-a-kind experience,” she said, adding that the programme would have been a welcome change after months of studying for the SPM. Despite her initial disappointment, the SMK Assunta student was undeterred and said she would get involved in similar activities over the next few months. “Even though I was not selected, I still plan to do some voluntary work at the nearest orphanage in my community,” she said.

Unlike Ilani, Calvin Hor was ecstatic to find that he had not been selected. The SMK Alam Megah student was among the anxious thousands who jammed the phone lines and website and sent countless SMS messages all day yesterday. “I'm very happy because I've already applied for the January intake at a private college and my parents are also quite happy as they want me to concentrate on my studies,” said Calvin, who had spent three hours calling the hotline more than 10 times.

His schoolmate Adrian Prakash, who had also been looking forward to entering college in January, was devastated to find himself on the list. “I'll have to start college later and lose a whole year. It is not fair that we are being used as guinea pigs and forced into something we are not interested in. “I don't see how teaching us to march will be of benefit,” he said. Adrian also felt strongly about the clause prohibiting contact between participants and their families during the three-month programme. “It's ridiculous. My mom is upset and doesn't want me to go,” he said.

While everybody else was dying to know if they were on the list, Stuart Lim Teik Joo from SMK USJ13 made no attempt to find out about his status. “I am terrified by the thought of being picked because I don’t know what to expect and whether the programme will be safe,” he said.

heechin
10-12-2003, 12:45 PM
CHL I think u hit the nail on the head! My concern is also for my kid's welfare in the hands of these newly recruited "trainers"...I really hope they know what they're doing with thousands of disgruntled and resentful teens. I'm ok with the idea of letting my kid undergo a specific regime dedicated to team-building and leadership and other motivation courses - it may do them some good as most of them are enjoying the good life now, so looks like they can now learn something about hardships. It will probably look fantastic on their testimonials or credentials when seeking employment later because they are part of the chosen few who have undergone national service. But the government better know what they're doing when running these programs especially the physical ones. They must ensure that SAFETY is PRIORITY!! Looking at all these reports about graft and incompetency and buck-passing in the government these days, they must be ACCOUNTABLE if anything tragic happened.:(

Cool Hand Luke
10-12-2003, 01:50 PM
Heechin - Accountability? I got this gut feeling that when mishaps happen, it is going to be the run-of-the-mill's 'these things do happen' and 'acts of God' answers. By the way, is there an insurance coverage for our children or do we have to buy them ourselves? I am more terrified of 'the sort' of people who would be teaching/training our children. Are these people trained mentally and psychologically to do the job? Have these people being screened for any hidden skeletons in the cupboards (I am trying to phrase this diplomatically here but if you are parents of young girls, you know what I am trying to say)? A whole host of questions which nobody can answer or care to answer.

Cool Hand Luke
11-12-2003, 09:48 AM
See? I was right. As usual, bunch of jokers planning something nationwide and affecting the whole nation without thinking. I give up. Osama - I am inclined to agree with most of the things you said and I mean it.

The Star (11th December 2003)

Taylor’s College will refund all fees to its South Australian Matriculation (SAM) students who have been selected for national service training and are not able to pursue their studies, said principal and chief operating officer Anucia Jeganathan. However, she said, students who still wanted to pursue the matriculation course – which starts in January with exams in November – after completing the training could do so as the college would organise intensive bridging classes to make up for the time lost. There was no problem for the college to reschedule its internal exams to accommodate the affected students, she added.

She was responding to the predicament faced by a 17-year-old girl scheduled to attend the SAM course in Taylor’s College beginning Jan 5. Gan Chia Ying, who plans to study commerce in Australia, has been selected for the training programme. The head prefect of SMK St David in Bukit Baru here said she had already paid the college RM8,050 for tuition fees and accommodation, and the training would cause her to lose one year of studies. “I feel this is unfair because I was selected randomly,” she told a press conference held by Durian Daun assemblyman Betty Chew yesterday. Chia Ying said if she could not be exempted from the programme, then she would like to be granted a postponement until she graduated from university.

The first batch of 17-year-olds will start the three-month national service programme on Feb 16, with the second and third batches starting simultaneously on March 22. In Petaling Jaya, DAP national chairman Lim Kit Siang called on National Service Council chairman Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to exempt those selected for the training programme next year if they had already made arrangements to enter the SAM course in January. “It is most unfortunate and just bad planning that the training of the 85,000 national service recruits could not be conducted without disrupting the educational plans of students,” he said in a statement.

Lim said the National Service Training Department and the council should have announced the list of recruits before students made plans for SAM.