I refer to the malaysiakini report From chaos to camps for Kelantan NS trainees. It is really disturbing that after three years into the National Service project and after so much of controversies, criticisms and debate, the national service department is still not capable of organising even the basic amenity of transport for the trainees.
This inefficiency on the part of the department has created a lot of uneasiness and doubt in the minds of parents, especially those who are skeptical of the programme. The outbursts by NS Training Council chairman Lee Lam Thye is indeed justified and should act as an eye-opener that all is not well with the programme. We agree with him that there is an urgent need for a shake-up of the whole department.
How are we to entrust our children to these officers when they are unable to organise even some basic arrangements? It is ridiculous that even such simple jobs need to be personally attended to and be supervised by the deputy prime minister.
We welcome Najib Razak's statement that the government views the matter seriously and will take appropriate action. As parents, the welfare and safety of our children is of paramount importance and cannot be compromised for whatever reason. We do hope that the DPM would seriously look into the New Year's day fiasco and reprimand those responsible for their lackadaisical attitude.
A lot of money and effort from all quarters - the government, parents and the trainees themselves have been put into the NS programme to fulfill a very noble aim of instilling racial tolerance and goodwill among younger generations. But considering the attitude of the authorities running the NS programme, there is no doubt in the minds of the people that we will never achieve the desired goals of the scheme.
Sending our young children for NS training is very serious and major decision for parents. For many of us, it has many emotional repercussions as is the first time they are being separated from the family. Furthermore, we are forced to submit them to a certain degree of risks while in training.
The NS department has a lot of explaining to do and it must do it immediately. Silence on their part will only create suspicion and doubts in the minds of the people as to the real motives of the NS programme.
The authorities and the officers involved in the programme must be more serious in carrying out their tasks with dedication and zeal. Unless they have a total and passionate commitment to make the NS programme a success, it would be a mere waste of taxpayers' money and we may be better off just abandoning the programme altogether and focus our attention on building racial integration in schools.
In fact, it would be more beneficial and cost-effective to bring NS training into schools rather than sending the kids into remote areas where they are subjected to unnecessary hazards which have even resulted in deaths.