KUALA LUMPUR: The government may consider bringing back the defunct National Service Training Programme (PLKN), following calls for its revival by several lawmakers, says Mohamad Sabu.
“As we know, PLKN has been rebranded by the Youth and Sports Ministry under a programme to champion the youth.
“It looks like MPs on both sides share the same view that the national service should be revived.
"I will take up the matter with the government to see if it is necessary in line with present needs,” the Defence Minister said during his winding-up speech on the Defence White Paper (DWP) in Parliament on Monday (Dec 2).
Mohamad said the move would also be based on the financial ability of the government.
Earlier during the debates, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (GPS-Santubong) said it was crucial to have national service to help prepare youths for the future, citing youths in Singapore having to undergo two years of compulsory training.
Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan (BN-Pontian) also suggested the revival of the programme but for a period of one year.
The PLKN programme, which started in 2004, was temporarily stopped in 2015 due to the government's efforts to cut spending.
Under the PLKN, 18-year-olds will undergo three months of training at over 100 camps nationwide.
The programme was reintroduced as PLKN 2.0 in 2016 and was to be made optional for trainees in 2019.
Last August, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman announced that the PLKN was abolished by the government.
On the DWP, Mohamad said it was not to expose abuses under the former administration.
“I had received WhatsApp messages during the debates asking me why the DWP did not expose former abuses.
“The DWP is to discuss what we will be facing in the next 10 years,” he said, adding that it would make it easier for lawmakers to raise any alleged corruption issues involving the armed forces for future debates in Parliament.
“The ruling government of the day can use the DWP, as it is a defence policy for the country”.
At the same time, Mohamad assured Malaysians that there was no revival of the communism ideology in the country.
“I received intelligence report daily, and I can assure that there are no attempts to revive communism," he said.
He was responding to a question following the distribution of the banned Belt & Road Initiative For Win-Winism comic book and the return of former communist leader Chin Peng’s ashes.
At the Parliament lobby, Mohamad said his ministry would request at least 1% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually as allocation for plans under the DWP.
"We may request for more. We are drafting our allocations for the 12th and 13th Malaysia Plan," he said.
Mohamad added that the government was committed to improving the armed forces to be more focused and integrated.
"We are determined to nurture the spirit of patriotism and safety among the people.
"The rise and fall of a nation depend on the unity and its strength in facing any form of threats," he said.
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