I am deeply disturbed by reports that National Service trainees are being taught how to use guns. I find it hard to accept that these youngsters who are not allowed to vote, and where some among them are not allowed to watch movies with elements of violence in them, are wielding weapons of war.
It was my belief that the purpose of National Service was to foster unity among young Malaysians, and to increase understanding among the different ethnic groups.
I fail to see how dealing with weapons helps in any way with this initial purpose.
We live in a world where there is a culture of violence, and a seeming tolerance of it. Teaching youngsters to use guns will only feed this existing violent tendency. The National Service is an excellent opportunity to show young Malaysians that problems can be solved diplomatically and democratically through dialogue. It is important to teach them to not resort to violence in solving problems.
Also, one cannot deny the many problems inherent in the National Service programme. We have recently seen reports of deaths happening at the camps. It is my opinion that using guns, even when supervised, will expose trainees to danger and may increase the chances of mishaps.
I do hope that the relevant parties involved in the planning and setting up of the National Service programme will reevaluate their position on weapons training. Let us really foster peace and understanding and not just pay it lip service - for the sake of national unity.