National Service - students & parents left with a sense of
by Fong Po Kuan
(Ipoh, Thursday): Since the selection of the candidates for the national service training started, DAP leaders have been receiving calls from selected candidates of the programme and their parents expressing their worries, fear and concern due to various reasons.
A parent called me up and expressed worry as the son is an athlete and will be participating in the Sukma next June. If he has to attend the program, it will affect his training preparation for 3 months.
Another selected student called and said that she has to sit for her music theory examination this coming March and she is worried that she would not be able to make it. Is she were to miss it, she would have to wait another year as the external examination is held annually.
One media reported that a selected participant was in tears and conveyed to her friend that she felt like jumping off the Penang Bridge when she found out that she has been selected to attend the programme.
Such a situation could have been avoided if the government had conducted a thorough and in-depth consultation with all affected groups and obtained their feedback, especially the youth, right from the start and disclosed all the necessary details of the programme to the public.
The worry and concern of parents and students are valid and only to be expected as they were not provided with important information about the program from the time the announcement of the proposed programme was first made and the National Service Training Bill was passed in Parliament.
For instance, it is most shocking that even now, the selected candidates are still put in the dark about the curriculum of the program. The national service website at http://www.khidmatnegara.gov.my simply states “maklumat kurikulum akan diumumkan kemudian”.
Also, in the required preparation for the selected participants, the following is stated:
· Maklumat mengenai Program Khidmat Negara
· Maklumat mengenai persediaan para peserta yang terpilih ke Program Khidmat Negara
· Senarai Hospital Kerajaan dan Swasta yagn menyediakan pemeriksaan kesihatan yagn diiktiraf oleh Kementerian Pertahanan
BUKU PANDUAN AKAN DIDAPATI PADA MASA AKAN DATANG
Although Section 20 of the Act stipulates that a selected participant can apply for postponement in accordance with the prescribed procedure within 10 days or within such extended period on the ground that exceptional hardship would ensue if he were so called up to the proper authority, many are in the dark over the procedure to be followed as this was not made known to the public.
Affected students and parents are left with a sense of helplessness until the procedure of appeal is announced, after which they would have to endure another waiting period pending the outcome of appeal. No time frame is provided in the Act for the appeal result from the authority.
The Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak should take seriously the potential hardship caused to the affected candidates and consider postponing the implementation of the national service programme in February until the various technical problems are sorted out. It is not too late to carry out proper consultation with the affected groups so that the programme would not end up wasting public funds of RM500 million yearly.
* Fong Po Kuan, DAP MP for Batu Gajah