Friday, March 02, 2007

Ours Is to Question Why

Not to Do And Die
My heart goes out to those parents who lost their teenaged children in National Service training .
How distraught they must have felt in losing a teenaged son or daughter.
They must have also felt a lot of anger in face of such a tragedy that could have been prevented.
I can feel their anger.
The latest death was that of 18 year-old Prema Elenchelian at the Tok Bali camp in Pasir Putih, Kelantan.
She was the 6th trainee to have died at camp since the programme was implemented in 2004. Let's hope hers would be the last (in a NS camp).
The number of deaths may make up less than one per cent of the NS trainee population, but let's remember that they are not mere statistics.
They were the nation's youth.
NS training council chairman Lee Lam Thye, reported to have been very distraught over Prema's death, said that there are plans to make it compulsory for trainees to undergo medical check-ups.
This, he pointed out, was the plan from the start, but was not implemented because the Health Ministry could not cope with 35,000 medical check-ups at one time.
I have never been against the NS programme. I just think that the way it is being run leaves so much to be desired. Some camps are run ok. Others, as they say -- suck.
That shouldn't be the case, should it?
Making sure NS camps are run properly and efficiently is non-negotiable. For as long as they are not, problems will keep cropping up and Malaysians are not going to have faith in the programme.
Problems of poor power supply, poor hygiene, poor water supply, poor this and that, are already bad to begin with, but when a trainee dies, that is totally unacceptable, unless, of course, it is due to causes beyond the camp adminsitration's control. Now, even that can, and without a doubt, will be disputed by the (trainees') families concerned.
I have talked to dozens of parents. They accept that the NS is here to stay. But, they cannot accept any lack of commitment on the part of the authorities in ensuring that their kids will be ok.
We have to ask -- what do we expect from the programme?
Obviously, the government wants to instil in young Malaysians a sense of patriotism and promote racial integration.
What's the other one? To train our young to be ready soldiers when the time comes as Singapore has been doing?
Or to instil a sense of discipline among young Malaysians?
These are 2 different things.
If you want them to be military trained, then the facilities, including trainers and staff should not fall short of what is expected in the military.
That's not what we want. So, don't expect the kids to be like soldiers.
Yet, the amenities in army camps are far better -- decent food, clean kitchens, clean toilets -- a spartan but clean environment.
The camp where Prema died had its dining hall and canteen sealed by the Pasir Putih District Council as they were dirty.
So, don't you think that they should take a serious look at the running of the NS camps across the country, as well as any weaknesses in the programme itself?
I don't know whether enough has been or is being done about it. I suspect not. I hope I am very wrong.
But I know I don't want another parent to go through the pain of losing a child in an NS camp.
As Prema's grandmother, S. Mariayie, cried: "She is too young to die".
They all are.

16 comments:

stand-up philosopher said...

It'll take another 12 more deaths or more before the authorities seriously look into this matter.
I'm an advocate of 'better an imperfect plan implemented than a perfect plan never implemented'.
The NS is obviously an imperfect plan judging from the number of fatalities. The tragedy is we have not been seen to perfect the imperfect. Maybe those who died were children from families 'who don't matter', if you understand from where I'm coming from. The values of the NS are noble. Now we must find noble people to instill these values.

X-Matters said...

Hi Ena
We are reading more and more horror stories out of NS.
I'm wondering if the authorities are actually doing something about the problems or are they still looking at the problems and eventually doing nothing about it.

shanghaistephen said...

My Dear,
Here is a serious problem that is going unchecked. If a child (I'd call them Children !)evades NS the hapless child and family is threatened with law suits and such... but if a family looses a child in NS does anyone gets sued ? Quickly a politician or some moron runs over to the family and apologises on behalf of the goverment .... surely we don't bring children into this world only to loose them this YOUNG ?? Do we ?And more so if it was a damn master plan for some one to reap profits from them ? Are they given a hero's burial ? Right? see my earlier posting regarding NS... I've always been against these kids in the care of some faceless bunch of half-baked trainers and ill-equiped make-shift long-houses called camps !!
Shame on the authorities and I for one say >>>SCRAPE THIS PROGRAMME NOW !!If need be, send only children of politicians and so called UMNO government servants !
PERIOD !

Anon. Fm Miri said...

Sis Aina,

It seem tat the HP6 g'ment only know how to make plan n strategies and no serious implementation. Whenever problems arised start to point fingers.

Adios.

p/s. write up done.

mekyam said...

It's CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE, that is what it is!

shanghaistephen: SCRAPE THIS PROGRAMME NOW !!If need be, send only children of politicians and so called UMNO government servants !

I sooo ditto shanghaistephen!

freelunch2020 said...

wow, finally met u :D but keep my id under anon still k? :D

NS = national nightmare now.

agree that scraping it may be the best option now since we can't even provide decent food.

children are not guinea pigs for ANOTHER mind control experiment after a failed education.

:D

KOPIKO said...

My son went to NS in Bentong 2 years ago and came back having a poor perception of how things are run in the country. The poor food, unhelpful/blind admin staff, poor living condition, poor/unfinished facilities are some of the conditions that we saw with our own eye during a visit there.
Much money were spent to built these 'prisons' but I think it could be another case of 100k spent for a 10K value.

Come on! Why have an army style training when the main objective is not(Sorry,I dont know the objective). Prema obvoiusly is not fit to undergo such strenuous excercises. My son came back darker than semi value after all the trainings under the hot sun. What is the objective again?

Clark Gable of Pulau Duyong said...

My condolence to Premas Family.

No amount of crocodile tears from Tan Sri would bring Prema's back so please stop the crying act.

Pure act of negligence!!!!

My not so educated guess,
The UMNOputras would get the license to the running of the camp,subcontracted the catering to a friend who subcontract to another friend and later subcontract it to a cousin who eventually subcontracted it to his brother .The final caterer would be provided with so little margin of profit thus resulting in poor quality food,substandard hygienic qualities and prepared by unscreened workers most probably unregistered contract workers from Bangladesh,Indo or Nepal .

The next phase of Action(Another uneducated guess):
A Steering wheel committee would be form answerable to AAB himself (or another Royal Comission) to look into the predicament"leaving NO stone Unturned"

All stones would be unturned in the process except those in the secure recess of UMNO headquarters.
The Committee would meet and the Tan Sri will do the weeping act again and the steering committee would continue to steer the issue from the real problem.

End of story.
Verdict:Act Of Nature
Conclusion: We propose ,that power that be ,dispose.

And I got 4 more kids to be handed to these NIMCOMPoos to make them so called a better citizen!!

Mr. Smith said...

"She was the 6th trainee to have died..."
The Star reported on Thursday (Mar 1) that she was the 8th trainee to die.
Nuraina, its not only you, but every parent would have felt as you did. It's heart-rending indeed.
Personally, I was deadly against this program from the word go. It was a hog-wash from the very start and haphazardly done.
There was no proper planning No proper curicula/syllabus. No proper trainers.
To me this project was a money generating machine for you know whom and those with connections - the food caterers, the tailors, the transport operators, boot suppliers, etc.
Like making instant coffee, this was an instant NS.

A Voice said...

I support this idea of national serice (as in proper national service). Even though watered down to somewhat (but not close to the standard) of a "Outward Bound School".

We need such program to instill in our youth a sense of patriotism and nationalism. We need it so our kids can learn to mix and develop a sense of camaraderie beyond the limited circle of comfort of their race, school, neighbourhood, etc.

I went to a boarding school. That experiance develop a strong bonding amongst us (aluumni) for the rest of our life. That experiance develop a strong sense of love for the institution. PLKN can replicate that, even if its limited in impact.

The strange thing is our country have a 100 year tradition of boarding school (using MCKK as yardstick). We never (or hardly heard) of students found dead in the dorms or in the playing field. Even if it is miniscule in term of percentages, the total number of 12 death at PLKN camp is BIG.

When my parenst sent me to boardign school for 5-6 years, very far at the back of their mind, I will come back dead. For just 3 month at PLKN, I sympathsie with the restlessness of parents.

a malaysian in riyadh said...

CGOPD's not so educated guess seems to be the conventional wisdom to many of us. Makes you shudder of the next accident waiting to happen, isn't it? And the ultimate nincompoops will be flogged with a warm lettuce leaf.
aMiR

Anonymous said...

If they ever call my son to go to National Service, I'll be his barricade. Najib ain' t taking my son away, no, Sir. Lam Thye is a good man and he can cry but I ain't letting him take my son away, no, Thank You.

When the time comes and they want to take my son to the NS, I will shut the door and armed myself to the teeth to protect him. No, sir, Najib ain't taking my son away. I am not saying that my son is not good enough to mix with other Malaysian kids. No, that's not my mind. I just don't trust that Najib or Lam Thye or the government are capable of making sure that nothing bad happens to my son, or you daughter.

They will make sure nothing happens to thier sons and daugthers or son-in-laws. That they will do.

Why can't they treat other people's sons and daughgters like thier own? The NS is supposd to make you believe that we are all doing something good for the nationj. The government has turne dthe NS into a nightmare. A threat.

No, Puan Nuraina, over my dead body,. I aint sending my son the National Service unless and until they - najib, lam thye and the government - learn how to do it properly and until they can tell me that no other kids, theirs or ours, will die.

rakyat pasirpanjang said...

shanghaistephen...

>>>SCRAPE THIS PROGRAMME NOW !! ...

Then what?? Pay compensations.. to all those who had been contracted to supply all the food, uniforms, facilities, tranportation, trainers, motivators...etc etc.???..
And above all...the First Lady who is getting commission from all these...
Where can....

Peace bro!!

Anonymous said...

nurainia

I have a couple of kids who will soon be ripe enough for NS.

I support the spirit of NS, but the way things are going, I will not have my kids undergo substandard training that puts their lives at risk.

I would rather be jailed or have my kids prosecuted than have them dead.

zewt said...

like many others, i feel NS is a total waste of national fund. we can talk till the cow comes home... but it's just gonna continue...

Scoliosis said...

Very "fortunately", I'm chosen to participate in the NS next year. Half of my friends said they are dying to be the lucky ones to go and those who are chosen, strangely, think otherwise.

Whatever is it, I have scoliosis (spinal deformity) and am very worried that I would have to carry on with the harsh training no matter what.