This is my fourth letter to the media about the dangers of our National Service programme. The latest victim makes the body count rise to twenty or more. It averages five deaths per year. I have appealed to the people who run the programme and also to this BN government but to no avail.
This letter is then targeted to the parents of present and future National Service trainees. What’s my concern? Simple. In all the twenty deaths I have followed closely, all of them, I believe, are caused by the carelessness and ‘don’t care’ attitude of the camp officers.
We will never know any truths of what happened in all the twenty cases simply because there have been no independent investigations done on any of them. We are fed the official ‘facts’ from those who are mostly responsible for the deaths. I have not seen or heard of any of the officers being disciplined or that the camps admitting any fault.
How can we be so naive to believe the camp officers’ report? Our children cannot just die of ‘lung infection’ or ‘cardiac arrest’ just over a few days. What I hypothesise happens is that the trainees would complain of being sick and then being told to ‘just tahanlah sikit ’ and probably sent off with some Panadol and words of reprimand.
The camp officers should have monitored the trainee for two days and if his or her situation was unchanged, then they should call the parents and sent him or her to the hospital. In almost all the cases when the trainees were sent to the hospital, the situation was beyond life saving. This is totally inexcusable.
When my daughter began coughing one day when I met her at her NS camp, I asked whether she saw the camp nurse or not. She said the camp nurse did not really take care of her. After one week, when she still was coughing, I asked permission to take my daughter to a real doctor. The camp officers refused to give me permission.
I lost my temper and told them that I would take my daughter to the doctor and that was what I did. She was diagnosed with acute bronchitis. I kept her home for a week and when the coughing subsided, I let her go to the camp again. I told her to immediately inform me if she was sick or if she thought she might be molested by the camp officers. I told her I would immediately come and rescue her away from the camp.
The lesson here for Malaysian parents is never trust the NS camp people. They do not care about our children. Keep in contact with your children every three days and if they complain of anything you should jump in immediately and demand to see your child.
Be aggressive with these people. They only understand brute authority. And when it comes to our children, we are the authority! Finally, if the BN government does not want to do anything about such incidences or allow a totally independent investigation by people appointed by the parents, then I think there are 82 parliamentarians who would listen.
So Malaysian parents please, for the sake of the lives of our children be smart and be wary.