PETALING JAYA: The government should look into the financial and module aspects of the national service training programme before reviving it, says Seputeh MP Teresa Kok.
She said the government must study the cost involved, because new training camps will be required, costing millions in public funds when the country is grappling with a RM1.5 trillion debt.
“If we truly want to restart the PLKN (the national service programme), then first, we should consider the cost and, second, the content (programme module),” she told FMT. The programme must bring together youths from all communities, she said.
“I propose a special committee involving various parties to assess the pros and cons, as well as content,” said Kok.
She added that Pakatan Harapan had previously questioned the costs to run the national service programme as well as a teaching module that was said to have stoked racial issues.
On Wednesday, Dewan Rakyat speaker Johari Abdul said the parliamentary committee on security intends to urge the government to revive national service and the national civics bureau to instil a sense of patriotism among young people,
He said the programmes could help the young to get involved in national development while increasing their political exposure. It would also be a medium by which to teach leadership skills, given that no such programmes are currently on offer in schools and universities.
The national service programme and the much-criticised civics bureau were abolished by the Pakatan Harapan government in 2018 but there have been repeated calls for national service to be revived.
Amanah Youth leader Hasbie Muda said the government may consider reintroducing the national service programme if it can bring down the cost. A total of RM8 billion had been spent on PLKN since its inception in 2003.
However, there is no pressing need for a national service programme of overlapping government-sponsored youth programmes already in place for teenagers, such as Sekolah Rukun Negara and Rakan Muda.
PLKN was first introduced in December 2003 to bring together 18-year-olds from different ethnic backgrounds in three-month programmes.
It was suspended for 12 months in 2015 when the Barisan Nasional government sought to reduce spending, before being reintroduced in 2016.