Cabinet should defer and rethink about the problematic National Service

Media Statement
Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew

(Petaling Jaya, Friday): Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was wrong when he threatened to use the laws to force the non-Malay trainers to join the National Service (NS) if the non-Malays refuse to fill up the vacancies. What he should really do is to defer the exercise until his ministry has found sufficient trainers and also resolve the various problems encountered by the selected candidates for the NS programme.

If Najib has no qualms over the controversy of only one Indian student was admitted to the Medical Faculty of Universiti Malaya in 2003, he should not insist on such ethnic quota in the case of trainers for the NS programme.

The NS programme was not a well thought out programme and certainly has started on a wrong footing. To select eighty over thousand from a pool of more than 480 thousand youngsters is in itself an unhealthy and unfair practice. Should we call those selected ones "lucky" or "unlucky"? We have received numerous complaints all over the country even before the programme was kicked off officially.

  • Hai Xia was married last year and she now has a 7-month-old baby to take care. There are no in-laws that can help her to do the job. What do you expect her to do now that she was selected among the first batch of candidates?
  • Ang has just found herself a job. Her boss was not willing to hire her after the 3-month long service. What do you expect her to do? Would the ministry help her to find a job?
  • Lisa is the eldest daughter in the family. Her father passed away a few years ago and now her mother has to undergo a major surgery in a month's time. She is the only one that can take care of her mother and other young siblings. What do you expect her to do?
  • May is seriously under-weight and her mother claims that she has asthma. She is not fit to do any physical exercise. But would the doctors with the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital grant her an exemption?

These are just some of the examples we gathered over the last few days. These examples have clearly shown that the NS programme is very problematic and more of a disservice for the affected families. It defeats the purpose of a national service.

Would the ministry allow young boys and young girls who were interested but not selected for the NS programme to take over from people like Hai Xia, Ang, Lisa and May? Should the ministry still insist of recruiting them for the programme under such difficulties and constraints?

The Party will be holding a meeting on the coming Sunday morning ([email protected] Dec 2004) at the DAP national headquarters in PJ (24 Jln 20/9 Paramount Garden Tel 03 7957 8022) with selected candidates who have problem of participating in the NS programme. Those who wish to seek help and clarification are welcome to attend the  meeting. We'll see what we can do for them.


* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP national publicity secretary and Selangor State chairman