COMMENT | The Youth and Sports Ministry has been given quite the task: To turn the National Civics Bureau (Biro Tatanegara, BTN) and National Service (NS) from something poisonous and mediocre respectively, to something positive and dynamic.
This will no doubt prove quite the challenge, but I’m sure it is one the good minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman and his deputy will embrace and face head on, given everything that is at stake.
BTN is a good microcosm of everything that was wrong with the old Malaysia. National Service has been a somewhat more mixed experience - one that definitely had room to improve.
I believe the government’s present decision is informed by two major factors: Firstly, that there is still a pressing need to deepen national unity and awareness in Malaysia; and secondly, that the pre-existing infrastructure that has been built around these two institutions should not go to waste.
In designing the replacement of BTN and NS, it feels like we are facing a blank canvas. This can be an intimidating opportunity, but it is an opportunity nevertheless.
These articles will be a thought exercise in what the guiding principles of this redesign should be (Part 1), and what the major options are with regard to practical implementation (Part 2).
Obviously, a detailed plan would require a dissertation-length exposition, but we shall aim to cover the broad strokes....