Malaysia to review national service programme

Malaysia to review national service programme

Malaysia National Service 2
An army personnel escorts students to their tents on the first day of the National Service Program at a camp in Kuala Kubu Baru outside of Kuala Lumpur on Feb 16, 2004. (Photo: AFP/Jimin Lai) 

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will review its national service programme, which was compulsory for randomly selected batches of 18-year-old Malaysians before it was reintroduced in 2016 as a voluntary programme.

In an interview with Channel NewsAsia, Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu said he will hold a meeting on the matter on Thursday (Jun 28), and a review of the entire national service programme will be raised in the Cabinet.

Mat Sabu CNA
Malaysia's Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu.

"Maybe we will change our curriculum ... we want young people to attend, we want all races," he said.

"It's very important because we want to keep the young generation involved nationally, (so) they love this country. They have to have very high civic behaviour so maybe through national service we can introduce that.

"As we call in the modern language, to indoctrinate them to become the good citizens," he joked.

However, he said the focus would not be on military capabilities but rather on teaching recruits about democracy, among other things.

"If the system is not good, they must have the ability to change through democratic means," he said.

"They're the young and we must train them on this."

Malaysia's previous iteration of its compulsory national service programme had been mired in controversy, and was criticised for its "random" selection method of participants and teaching youth how to use firearms.

Source: CNA/zl(cy)