Out of the thousands of trainees who reported for the latest national service (NS) programme in Padang Besar yesterday, the most famous was former dodger 18-year-old Ahmad Harizal Ahmad Fauzie.
Fellow trainees milled around the school dropout, eager to greet and welcome him.
Ahmad Harizal reported to Tasoh Camp for the three-month stint.
The usually shy boy who comes from a destitute family said he did not have problems making new friends.
“I guess most of the trainees recognised me from the various newspaper reports.”
Ahmad Harizal was among the 1,045 trainees who reported for the latest intake in three camps in Perlis.
The boy from Kayang made headlines in May after spending one night in a police lockup because he failed to pay the RM600 fine imposed by the magistrate’s court for not attending his call-up last year.
Ahmad Harizal was ‘spared’ after Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim settled the fine. The boy was the first person to be charged and penalised for not attending the NS programme.
The case generated much publicity following which the prosecution filed an appeal to the High Court resulting in a ruling that the boy be bound over for one year.
Shahidan’s special officer Senator Ismail Kassim, who was present at the camp yesterday, said they would ensure that Ahmad Harizal completed his training.
Camp commandant Mej Su-wardi Jasin said Ahmad Harizal would be accorded the same treatment as the other trainees despite the overwhelming attention that he received.
Besides the Perlis-born boy, another star attraction was the camp’s first orang asli trainee, Wahab Ranting, 18, from Jeli, Kelantan.
Mej Suwardi said 146 out of the 350 trainees registered for the camp have reported to date.