People divided over NS penalty

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 11 Apr 2004

PETALING JAYA: The decision to haul national service (NS) evaders to court is too harsh, say some organisations. 

Others, however, say it is justified. 

St John Ambulance of Malaysia's commander-in-chief Datuk Dr Low Bin Tick said the move would cause distress to the parents of the youths. 

“We need to hear their explanation first before deciding whether to charge them in court. 

“Some of them may have good reasons for their absence, like not receiving their notifications for the programme,” said Dr Low when contacted yesterday.  

He said an interim committee should be appointed to examine the cases before taking legal action. 

It was reported on Saturday that some 10,000 youths who were selected for NS but failed to register for the three-month programme are to be charged. 

NS Training Council chairman Kol Prof Datuk Dr Ahmad Fawzi Mohd Basri had said its training department’s legal section would discuss with the Attorney-General’s Chambers the action to be taken against absentees. 

MTUC president Datuk Zainal Rampak said that while the law allowed absentees to be charged in court, the authorities should be flexible in exercising this option. 

“These 10,000 youths should be given a second chance.  

“This is the first time NS is being conducted and there are bound to be some problems, so let’s give it a second try.” 

In Kota Kinabalu, Consumer Association of Sabah president Patrick Sindu said any move to charge these youths should be done on a case-by-case basis as many of them might not have known that they were selected. 

He said there were many cases in Sabah particularly in rural areas where the selected candidates could not be reached, and by invoking the National Service Act to penalise them would be unfair. 

“It is not fair to put such teenagers through a trial and black mark them with a conviction for an offence likely caused by teething problems and bureaucracy,” he said. 

However, several youth organisations were supportive of the move to act against NS evaders.  

4B Youth Movement of Malaysia secretary-general Datuk Jamaludin Abdul Rahim said: “We must be strict. 

“If no action is taken against them, it will encourage more teenagers to evade training,” he said. 

Felda Youth Council president Datuk Ramli Ismail said that if the absentees were let off, the following batch would also take the programme for granted. 

The Malaysian Indian Muslim Youth Movement president Mohamad Kathir Ali said such disciplinary measures were needed to address the lack of patriotism. 

“Youths nowadays must do their part as citizens and we need to instil in them loyalty for the country,” he said, adding that the punishment was “reasonable”.  

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