Ong: Programme promotes unity

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 15 Jun 2003

ALOR STAR: The national service programme, which will be implemented next February, will reflect the country's multi-racial, multicultural and multi-religious composition, said MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting. 

“The national service programme will accommodate the sensitivity of all races,” he said before meeting some 600 Kedah MCA leaders here yesterday. 

Ong said the training would be aimed at producing more disciplined, united and patriotic young people who were inclined towards inter-racial harmony. 

“It is not the type of training to ask them to fight a war,” he added. 

He said the training would instil good values in the participants and stress on their responsibility to society. 

Ong, who is also a member of the Cabinet Committee for National Service, said the committee had gone through much discussions and consultations before drawing up the programme. 

“It is not something which was just rushed through but had taken time to discuss,’’ he said.  

Ong said MCA fully supported the programme and would help explain its rationale and benefits to the Chinese community. 

On Friday, Najib announced that 100,000 youths, of both sexes and all races, would be selected randomly by computer from 480,000 people who would turn 18 next year to participate in the three-month training programme. 

In Kuala Lumpur, Kepong MCA government affairs and public service bureau deputy chairman Tai Sim Yew lauded the implementation of the national service programme. 

Tai, who is also chairman of the MCA hotline service, said the focus of the national service should be to promote unity and to eradicate racial polarisation. 

In Petaling Jaya, the National Association of Private Educational Institutions (Napei) wants the national service programme to count as an academic credit towards students’ tertiary level qualifications. 

“This would motivate students to take up national service and it would not disrupt the conduct of courses by institutions of higher learning,” said association president Dr Mohd Talha Alithamby. 

Dr Talha said the Government should also plan for post-national service programmes to ensure that students would not forget what they had learned during their three-month stint. 

In Penang, Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon has proposed that the programme be held immediately after the SPM examination. 

He said it would be a waste of time if fresh school-leavers were made to wait until February for the programme to commence. 

“After SPM, the youths can rest for a week before joining the programme,'' he said, adding that students should be allowed to go home during festive breaks. 

He said this after presenting a total of RM230,000 from his special fund to five Chinese independent non-profit oriented schools at the Caring Society Complex. 

Meanwhile, the DAP Socialist Youth wants a public debate on the details of the programme before the National Service is implemented. 

Its national secretary, Loke Siew Fook, said the implementation of the National Service involving 100,000 youths aged 18 years was being hastily done.  

Unhappy with the selection processes of 100,000 boys and girls out of the 480,000 youths, Loke asked: “What will happen to the remaining 380,000 youths who were not selected?” 

He also questioned the rationale of a penalty of RM3,000 fine or jail of up to six months or both imposed against those who were selected but failed to attend the three-month programme.  

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