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Not right time to bring back National Service, says Patriot

29 Nov 2020 / 13:12 H.

PETALING JAYA: The government’s plan to revive the National Service (NS) programme might be good on paper, but not timely during efforts to curb the Covid-19 pandemic, says the National Patriot Association (Patriot).

Its president, Brid-Gen (Rtd) Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raj, in a statement said although the objective is good, serious thought must be given to better and cheaper alternatives, with the Education Ministry taking the lead.

“Patriot agrees that NS is a good programme, but its revival at this time is not necessary as the country is facing economic and financial woes caused by Covid-19.

“Serious consideration must be given to affordability, timing, and the possibility of better and cheaper alternatives.

“There was much criticism towards the training programme, including that the main objective to instill patriotism, foster understanding, harmony, unity, and a caring Malaysian society, had failed.

“There was also accusation that the NS was to enrich cronies, with nearly half of the total cost towards paying rental of training camps.

“The NS programme cannot and should not proceed until these criticisms are addressed,“ he said.

Alternatively, he said the Education Ministry can focus on developing extracurricular activities that may produce similar results as NS, and at much reduced cost.

“The education ministry should have experts in motivational training capable of developing training modules that meet similar objectives as NS.

“Activities such as scouting (Brownies, Boy Scouts and Girl Guides), outdoor motivational camps, military and police school cadets, and school choirs, are good examples. Red Crescent and St John’s Ambulance are good examples too,“ he added.

The national service programme started in 2004 under former defence minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak and was dissolved in 2018 by the former Pakatan Harapan government after it took over Putrajaya.

A total of 885,956 youths had participated in the training, he added.

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