Tok Mat: PLKN 3.0 to start in 2025; no provisions for programme in Budget 2024

THE National Service Training Programme (PLKN 3.0) can only be implemented in 2025 after all the processes involved and detailed studies have been carried out.

Defense Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said that PLKN 3.0 could not be implemented next year as there was no provision for the programme in the 2024 budget.

Mohamad, who is popularly known as Tok Mat, said the Defence Ministry (MINDEF) first needs to upgrade the territorial (Wataniah) military camps that will be used for training.

“For that, we need to upgrade the 13 territorial (Wataniah) military camps across the country first.

“As for the details of the PLKN 3.0 implementation mechanism, it will only be known after the ministry drafts it together with stakeholders, especially non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the community.

“Before we finalise the programme, it needs to get the approval of the Cabinet Ministers to proceed,” Mohamad said during the debate on the Supply Bill for the Defence Ministry in Dewan Rakyat today (Nov 23).

On Oct 9, Mohamad said the unity government has agreed to resume the PLKN with a different training method than before, with youths expected to undergo training in military camps.

“The government has reconsidered resuming PLKN. The Cabinet Ministers in 2021 has already approved that it be reviewed in a new way for us to continue PLKN,” Mohamad had said in the Dewan Rakyat..

According to Mohamad, unlike the previous PLKN which was more like a “summer camp”, the revived programme will be geared more towards providing youths with army training.

In the new PLKN, he said there would be three phases: Phase 1 at school level with the involvement at uniform units under co-curricular activities, followed by a 45-day camp under Phase 2, and then Phase 3 where the trainee would be welcomed by the agencies.

“Under Phase 2, 90% of focus will be on military-style identity building and another 10% on statecraft (ketatanegaraan),” the Rembau MP said.

The announcement regarding the reinstatement of PLKN 3.0 had stirred controversy particularly on social media, where netizens expressed skepticism and even ridicule the government’s announcement that under the PLKN Act, youths up to the age of 35 could be drafted for the training programme.

On Nov 3, MINDEF stepped forward to address the concerns raised regarding the age limit for the upcoming PLKN 3.0 by clarifying that trainees for PLKN 3.0 would be selected based on their year of birth, with a maximum age limit of 35.

“There is a starting point in terms of year of birth for PLKN 3.0 participants. For instance, if PLKN 3.0 is implemented in 2024, then teenagers born in 2007 will be called up to attend the training.

“If the chosen teenager cannot attend the national service training due to reasons that are allowed, they can ask for a postponement.

“The maximum age for a trainee is 35 years old. MINDEF hopes this clarification will clear up the confusion and outrage among the public regarding the age limit for PLKN 3.0,” the ministry said in a statement on Nov 3.

PLKN was introduced in 2004 involving the random selection of youths aged 18 for a compulsory three-month programme.

It was halted in 2015 and reintroduced the following year with participation to be made optional by 2019. However, it was abolished in 2018 and replaced with a youth leadership programme during the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration. – Nov 23, 2023


Main pic credit: Berita Harian

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