by Loke Siew Fook
DAPSY strongly condemns the 14 days' jail sentence imposed on National
Service dodger Ahmad Hafizal Ahmad Fauzi by the Kangar Magistrate Court
yesterday. The jail sentence is totally unfair, unjust and unnecessary.
Ahmad Hafizal has not committed any criminal offence that harmed anyone but
yet was sent to jail and will have a jail record for his whole life.
When passing the sentence on Ahmad Hafizal, the magistrate said that "this
case should be a lesson to all teenagers not to ignore the Government's call
to participate in the programme". This is a very short-sighted view. By
passing the sentence, the court has sent out a very wrong message to the
youth that it is wrong to work hard to support their family.
From the very beginning, DAPSY has always strongly opposed the criminal
sanctions in the National Service Training Act. When the National Service
Training Bill was presented and debated in Parliament in 2003, DAPSY has
called on the government to drop all criminal sanctions involving RM3,000
fine or six-month jail or both for 18-year-olds who failed to turn up for
the programme and proposed that the programme should be a voluntary one. We
have always maintained that patriotism and national unity cannot be forced
by threat of imprisonment but should be instilled voluntarily.
Our calls as usual fell into the deaf ears and the bill was rubber-stamped
by the Barisan Nasional legislators. It's ironic now to see UMNO Youth
leaders and the Perlis Mentri Besar to play the "good guy" role by offering
the family to pay the fine when in fact it was their leaders in Parliament
who passed the law.
It is ridiculous for the government to penalize some teenagers who are
unable to undergo the National Service programme due to their
social-economic hardship. In reality, less than twenty percent of youth aged
18 in the country have to undergo the "mandatory" programme every year. Why
can't the government be a bit flexible by allowing the exemption of those
who really can't make it due to their special circumstances and let those
who are interested to replace them?
The jail sentence on Ahmad Hafizal has set a very bad precedent in the
country and strengthens the notion that the court and the police are not
spending their time to fight the serious crime situation in the country but
instead dealing with trivial issues such as not attending the National
DAPSY calls on the Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail to drop all impending
charges against National Service dodgers and let the Ahmad Hafizal's jail
sentence be the first and the last in the country. The AG must also
immediately step in and free Ahmad Hafizal and clear his record.
* Loke Siew
DAPSY National Secretary and Negeri Sembilan State Assemblyman for Lobak.