Re-introducing national service for Malaysian youths– is the idea feasible in the first place?

YESTERDAY (Oct 9) Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan revealed plans to revive the National Service Training Programme (PLKN) which involves basic army training for 45 days.

The previous programme was first introduced in 2004 with randomly selected youths aged 18 having to undergo a compulsory three-month programme.

That was scrapped in 2015 but revived a year later with a plan for optional participation to be introduced in 2019. However, the entire PLKN was scrapped in 2018.

Entailing students who have completed their SPM, Mohamad who is also the Rembau MP said the youths will be based in 13 territorial (Wataniah) army camps which are capable of accommodating 20,000 students annually.

“Some 90% of the training concept encapsulates army training while 10% will be on nation building,” said Mohamad.

But only 10% of the training syllabus on nation building? Isn’t the primary purpose of the PLKN to foster a sense of patriotism among youth? It was intended to build bridges among youths from different backgrounds. This is for them to have a better understanding of their fellow Malaysians from other ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.

Why is the bulk of the training focusing on basic army training? The country is not at war, or at any threat of external invasion.

Pic credit: Berita Harian

If anything, this proposal sounds like the mini war games being played out by members of a certain political party.

Here’s a suggestion – why not set up or utilise existing sports facilities to groom the nation’s young into being more competitive citizens?

Given that sports can instil a deep sense of patriotism, such a move would certainly improve the sense of national identity among youths.

The government would also face a lot less backlash from parents concerned over the safety of their offspring. Instead of marching aimlessly and endlessly under the hot sun, participants would be undergoing specific and specialised training.

Given Malaysia’s lacklustre showing at the recent Asian Games, wouldn’t it be better to have the nation’s youth geared towards improving its sporting prowess?

Surely, having national service placed under the Youth and Sports Ministry would certainly be more welcome than having it under the Defence Ministry.

Over to you, Hannah Yeoh. – Oct 10, 2023


Main pic credit: The Star

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