|Thursday, 10 March 2011 19:44|
Since 2004, the selected Malaysian youth at the age of 17, have been fortunate to be required to endure a three-month mandatory National Service Training Program, or Program Latihan Khidmat Negara (PLKN). PLKN was formulated by the Ministry of Defense, as at the time when it was proposed in 2001, the problem of racial polarization was found to be pervading educational institutions in Malaysia.
The idea is to encourage friendships between Malaysian youths of certain age from different races and ethnic groups and also to address concern that the country's various races are becoming increasingly isolated from one another.
The Issues ‘Around’ the PLKN Camp
The government’s introduction of PLKN is a commendable progress towards ethnic harmony. However, it is undeniable that there are several issues regarding PLKN that parents need to know before sending their children off for their national duty.
What’s In It for the Government?
It is not too straightforward to say that, this very batch of PLKN trainees are in contention to shape the next general election as they have been given the mandate to be registered voters. Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz announced to Dewan Rakyat that there are 657,141 new registered voters in the first quarter of 2010 and vowed that responsible agencies are working to reach the eligible voters to register and cast their votes in the upcoming GE13.
The government is also awarding allowances to trainees who enrolled in PLKN camps. RM150 per month or RM450 for the whole course is given out in the form of premium savings in Bank Simpanan Nasional.
As the article is being written, PLKN’s first batch (2004) should now be at the age of 23 to 24. Should the program work, racial unity in Malaysia should already be in good condition as far as their past participations in PLKN is concerned. The trainees must realize that after they had endured the course, it does not stop there. They must practice what they have been thought outside the camp to signal the success of this PLKN program. There is no use of the three-month long of drills and exercises if there are still going to be insensitive idiots parading a decapitated cow’s head or silly complaints over loud calls for prayer or a rapper making vulgar remarks on people of other races.