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Call to overhaul national service

PETALING JAYA: If the National Service Training Programme (PLKN) is to be revived, the defunct model cannot be brought back and its programme must be re-evaluated, say stakeholders.
National Patriots Association president Brig-Jen (Rtd) Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji said reviving PLKN under its present form was a waste of “effort, money and time”.
Arshad said if the objective of the programme was to instil loyalty and patriotism, the training could not be done in its present form.
“PLKN should be renamed. To use the term ‘National Service’ is misleading, ” he said in an interview.
Arshad suggests the government first evaluate the success of the defunct PLKN model and how it had benefited the nation.
“If the government insists on using the term ‘National Service’, then it needs to look at Singapore’s model.
“Also, loyalty and patriotism need to be instilled in students at the formative age. I suggest the government look at the Japanese and Korean model, ” he said.
Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman announced the termination of the programme last August.
However, on Dec 2, Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu said the government was considering bringing back the programme, adding that any move would also be based on the financial ability of the government.
Malaysian Youth Council president Jufitri Joha said the proposed revival should be coordinated with the Youth and Sports Ministry following an announcement it would be rebranded as part of the Malaysia Future Leaders’ School (MFLS) programme.
“The Youth and Sports Ministry must continue to be the main driver of MFLS while the Defence Ministry can collaborate to help strengthen it, ” he said.
MFLS was launched to replace the scrapped PLKN and the National Civics Bureau back in May.
“The coordination between the ministries should be clear and any government decision should be firm and unwavering so as not to be seen as ‘flip-flopping’.
“The constant changes have led to difficulties in the implementation and financial implications of the country as well as eroding public confidence in the government, ” Jufitri said.
Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said it was not in favour of PLKN being revived.
She said the defunct PLKN did not meet its intended objectives, thus, was not proven effective.
“We feel that the budget is better utilised for primary and secondary education such as upgrading classroom teaching where it is needed most.
“Although the education budget appears big, most of it is spent on teacher emoluments and little for enhancing and benchmarking teaching skills, ” she said.
The PLKN programme was set up in 2004 where 18-year-olds were selectively drafted to undergo three months’ training at over 100 camps nationwide.
Since the programme’s inception, it was plagued with various problems, among which include trainee deaths, food poisoning, fights, as well as poor hygienic conditions at the camps.
According to reports, until 2013, a total of 23 trainees had died since the national service programme began.
Awang Mohd Fazil Awang Borhan was among the first casualties when he drowned while swimming with other trainees in Sarawak.
The programme too was embroiled in a rape case.
A 17-year-old former national service trainee was raped and beaten in a car by a trainer who was subsequently charged and sentenced to jail.
Despite the problems, the programme continued until 2015 where it was temporarily suspended to reduce government expenditure.
The programme was then reintroduced as PLKN 2.0 in 2016 and was made optional for trainees in 2019.

Full article: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/12/15/call-to-overhaul-national-service

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