Friday May 16, 2008
RM2.37bil spent on NS
A TOTAL of RM2.37bil has been spent to finance the national service (NS) programme since it was introduced in 2004, Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Wira Abu Seman Yusop said.
He said RM608.6mil was spent in 2004, RM604.8mil in 2005, RM588.2mil in 2006 and RM565mil last year.
“A survey conducted revealed that the trainees were very receptive to the programme.
“The Government will continue to improve the programme from time to time,” he told Loke Siew Fook (DAP – Rasah).
Loke had criticised the annual allocations used for the NS programme, and reminded the Government that Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had said that the programme would not exceed RM500mil a year.
Abu Seman also denied that the NS programme was becoming more of a military training programme with the inclusion of the M-16 rifle training module.
He said this training was part of the initiative to foster racial unity and national integration and also to create a sense of patriotism among the youth.
“The rifle-shooting training module has been able to instil discipline among the NS trainees,” he added.
To a question from Hamim Samuri (BN – Ledang), Abu Seman said a suggestion has been made to invite political parties to inspect the NS camps.
On Wednesday, Najib told the House that the NS programme must be continued to promote national unity and if it were turned into a voluntary programme, participation would be dominated by one race.
“The programme is important to form strong national unity and self-belief as united and noble rakyat,” said the Deputy Prime Minister in his winding-up speech on the motion of thanks on the Royal Address.
During his winding-up speech, Lim Kit Siang (DAP – Ipoh Timor) and Fong Po Kuan (DAP – Batu Gajah) interjected several times and called for the programme to be scrapped as it was not beneficial.
Fong urged for the programme to be turned into a purely voluntary one and asked how many deaths would it take for the Government to finally decide to stop it.
Najib replied that there were 16 deaths since the programme started in 2004, with 11 trainees dying in the camps and five more during breaks.
“Of the 11 who died, seven cases were due to diseases while four died in accidents,” said Najib, who also chairs the NS Cabinet committee.
He added that the death cases only involved a very small percentage of the 339,186 NS trainees.
He also rapped Malaysians who were determined to get the programme abolished, when Singaporeans were strongly in support of their National Service programme.
“In Singapore, there are more death cases but Singaporeans give priority to national interest,” he said to loud thumping of the tables from the Barisan Nasional backbenchers.