Archive for March 16th, 2007

RM2 billion spent on National Service – be a model of integrity

National Service -- Malaysia

Nanyang Siang Pau has reported that the National Service Training Council at its meeting yesterday had recommended that the national service training programme should not be made compulsory for girls.

It has taken three long years for the National Service Training Council to take up my public call to the Cabinet in April 2004 that if the Cabinet was not prepared to suspend the national service training programme, although it was “half-baked, ill-conceived and premature” from poor conception, formulation and execution right from the beginning, the least the Cabinet should do was to make the national service training programme voluntary for girls, allowing parents who wish to do so to immediately withdraw their daughters from the programme and bring them home.

The call followed the spate of fights, sexual harassment (including rape) and breakdown of discipline in the national service programme. I had also pointed out at the time that out of 1,000 national service trainers, only 15 per cent were women when the ratio of male and female trainees were almost equal.

But this call three years ago fell on deaf ears, including women Cabinet Ministers and the National Service Training Council.

Public confidence in the national service training programme has continued to plummet in the past three years because of the unending incidents, mishaps and disasters including avoidable deaths of trainees, to the extent that quite a substantial number of parents would agree with the sentiments of the letter-to-the editor in the Malay Mail yesterday:

“I would gladly be slapped with the RM3,000 fine rather than be compensated the same amount for the untimely death of my son or daughter.”

Some 365,000 18-year-olds would have undergone the three-month national service training programme by September this year since it was launched in 2004, and over RM2 billion of taxpayers’ money spent.

The National Service Training programme should be a model of transparency and integrity with a full public accounting of the more than RM2 billion spent in the past four years to prove that every sen had been honestly used for the welfare of the trainees. Read the rest of this entry »