National Service-BTN replacement same difference

Opinion  |  S Thayaparan
Published:  |  Modified:

“That’s the duty of the old, to be anxious on behalf of the young. And the duty of the young is to scorn the anxiety of the old.”

― Philip Pullman, ‘The Golden Compass’

COMMENT | Apparently, there is a “specialised programme” for youths in the works to replace the National Service (NS) and National Civics Bureau (BTN) programmes.

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, who has the uncanny ability to mimic a forward-thinking technocrat on one hand and parrot an old-style alliance politician on the other, is upbeat that these new initiatives would produce “multi-talented” youth leaders.

First of all, you cannot create leaders. You can mould them, fill them with what you think good leaders are made of, but mainly you are creating clones to further ideological agendas.

Genuine leaders are forged when committed people come out of the experience of pursuing causes they think would improve the state of their country and its citizens.

In other words, you can create politicians but no way can you create “leaders".

Do we really need another two government programmes with no objective agendas at a time when the diplomatic corp is being told to tighten their belts?

The idea of revamping these programmes is not new. With the BTN course for example, the Harapan regime's position has been disjointed. While some states, including Kelantan, have stopped sending people to this BN-era programme, the political elite of Harapan have always been interested in revamping these programmes.

My stand on this issue is clear – “Do you really trust this new administration to reform this institution? Do you really want your tax ringgit spent on an organisation whose function is to instil a sense of patriotism in the civil service or students or whoever they target?”

Instead of spending money on these new programmes, why not use the funds where it counts?

There is a big divide between rural and urban schools. The quality of education is dependent on a whole host of issues but shouldn’t the youth and sports minister be the vanguard for reforms in the way how young people in this country are educated, and more importantly place an emphasis on achieving some sort of parity in the way how urban and rural young people spend their formative years?

Let us take the issue of sex education, for instance...

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