KUALA LUMPUR: The Defence Ministry has set a target of 30% non-bumiputra recruitment in military colleges nationwide in line with the government's agenda of racial integration, said its Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
The two-fold increase in non-bumiputra intake, he stressed, would not reduce the chances of bumiputras to enter military colleges as the overall seats available would increase accordingly and proportionally.
“In recent years, enrolment of non-bumiputra students dropped significantly. In the old days, “old putras” (ex-military students) were from multi-racial and multi-religious backgrounds who forged a strong bond through military training.
“We want to revive the old tradition and maintain at least a 30% intake of non-bumiputras in military colleges at all times in the coming years.
“At the same time, non-bumiputras should view military education more positively. Military colleges not only train students to excel academically but also contribute to character and leadership building,” Najib said after launching the annual awards presentation ceremony at the Sungai Besi Royal Military College yesterday.
He said a multi-racial setting at military colleges would help instil a higher level of tolerance and understanding towards various cultural values among military graduates, who would in turn co-operate better in defending and building the nation.
He added the Government would upgrade the infrastructure, equipment and logistic preparations in view of the increased intake, which would boost the annual enrolment figure from 500 to 800 by 2005.
He also said this year, the non-bumiputra intake was increased to 27% from 15% the previous year.
Najib also highlighted the shortage of medical doctors in the armed forces with some 45% of vacancies unfilled. The ministry hoped to reduce the shortage by sponsoring medical students at local universities in exchange for their services.
“The ministry is giving out 31 scholarships this year to first-year medical students at local universities and upon graduation, they will receive the rank of captain and be required to serve the force for at least 10 years,” he said.
At present, the armed forces have 160 doctors, including 18 seconded from Pakistan's armed forces.