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com/2011/03/18/plkn/ By Jonathan Woon Texting my identification card number to some random five-digit number, I got a reply about five minutes later congratulating me for being drafted into National Service. It read, Tahniah, anda terpilih untuk mengikuti Program Latihan Khidmat Negara! Want to go or not leh? I vividly recall that argument deep inside my mind. Being a typical Malaysian, I started listing down the pros and cons of the rather-new Program Latihan Khidmat Negara (PLKN/NS) hoping that the list would serve as a guideline to whether or not PLKN was worth my time. The final list was no stranger to me. All those good and bad stuff about NS has already been rooted in my mind for quite some time now. Remember discussing with your Bahasa Melayu cikgu about PLKN for karangan? We run in circles only to find ourselves back in the same spot where we started our run. No mum and dad meant time to learn how to berdiri atas kaki sendiri. Waking up early simply meant a healthier lifestyle that we lack (so they say). The list of pros and cons never really helped me make up my mind. The problem Ive always had with PLKN is not the good or bad changes it brings to the lives of young teens. But rather, I think the idea of mewajibkan all drafted teens to attend the program is really absurd; a dense decision made by whoever thats in charge which lacks thorough evaluation. Does everyone need such training? I totally understand how the government is trying to raise a generation so patriotic that is not only full of zeal for the countrys well being but also familiarized with the whole idea of being one as Malaysians. Of course the government is also well aware of the moral well being of Malaysias pemuda-pemudi today. However, does everyone fall under the tidak patriotik category and does everyone behave like monkeys? No, I dont think so. Random drafting isnt the way to go but selective drafting should do the trick. Selectively drafting those who arent patriotic enough and has behaviors liken to monyets will definitely combat the whole issue weve been battling all these years- sampah masyarakat.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, first day of National Service wasnt really impressive. Officers that yelled at me even at day one for no reason certainly degraded the whole program in my eyes. Obviously, I was observant at all times and tried my best not to sway my judgments to either side; positive or negative. It was hard but turned out worth it as I look back now. Of course, it would be impossible to go into detailed explanation of my time spent there (three months in total). Being put in charge of all trainees as commanding officer wasnt necessarily a good thing, for real. Throughout the program, I often find myself metaphorically comparing my life there as a pressure cooker. It wasnt leadership training that I was going through, more like a torture house. Let me briefly blurb out some interesting highlights at my campsite: 1) A dead friend

Due to the late invitation letter they sent to us (two days before camp), none of us had time to go for a proper medical checkup. Surprisingly, we were still forced to go through the program. Guess what, my friend died of leukemia during camp. Of course, the disease was not contracted during camp but I strongly believe that the physical modules he went through certainly did exacerbate the problem.


Paint the campsite red!- a celebration for the dead

This personally sparked anger in me but being leader, I had to hold back and kill thoughts that defended my own skin color. A particular group of male trainees of about 30 people decided to wear red-colored t-shirts the night he (my friend mentioned above) passed away. The Chinese community and red-shirt group ended up in a fight, physically and verbally. There was tension on the campsite and after hours of Q&A sessions, we finally found out the true story; those who wore red did not know that it was disrespectful to the Chinese community for one to display the color red during sorrowful occasions. Dont we all know that already, or do we need to educate them with these tiny little aspects of peace and harmony? Whether or not it was done intentionally is a different argument altogether. Whats significant here is the fight that took place. Yet, we claim the program to be a mind-changing program where peace is thought and embedded within trainees. 3) Balik kampong

Ask any Chinese where their kampong is and Im confident it will be a local place; Batu Lima, Teluk Intan, Petaling Jaya, Kota Baharu, Kuching, Kelang, etc..Have you heard your friend say hes from China and that his kampong is Szechuan? No. There was once during lecture, a trainer yelled at a male trainee which was rather poor in his Bahasa Melayu. She asked him to balik China. The whole lecture hall experienced silence and all of a sudden some other trainees joined in the fun and started agreeing to what the trainer said. How sad, I almost cried that day but held back these things because of my responsibilities as a commanding officer. Enough said, theres more to it but I wont go on. Ill leave these thoughts with you, it is sufficient. What the media paints about PLKN and what I experienced was a totally different thing. At the end of the program, what happens? In fact, this is what the program is all about; the after effects. The moment we stepped out of camp the effectiveness of the program became evidentsmokers resumed their puffing routine and the beige-skinned community clustered once again like glue. Everyone goes back to square one, as though PLKN was a mere dream and yesterdays syok punyer experience. Clearly, nothing really changed. However, things could have been different if the program was made available only to those who are interest. Are we looking for quality of quantity? The quantity that we produce which is a mass amount of patriotic Malaysiansdoes no good at all. They dont last, they lack quality and is of no use to the country. Toss them away into the trash because theyre all back to square one; sampah masyarakat. Jonwoon is a freshman majoring in communication studies with an emphasis on radio & television production/performance and a minor in journalism. You can contact him at jonathan.woon@sckans.edu. He is currently studying at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas.

Review The pros and cons of national service PLKN is a program for teenagers who have been chosen after SPM. Those who try to escape will be punished to the extend of going behind bars. The pros and cons of national service is still be the hot issue for some people. People are debating on the effectiveness and the outcome of this program so far. Money and time always be the issues because some think it is a waste or opposite. The pros are we are providing employment opportunities to individuals who are involved in each camp. Among them were former soldiers, ex-police, exfighters, soldiers, police, firemen, nurses, doctors, laborers, clerks, and workers we also provide space to develop individual business involved in the preparation ofuniform trainees, trainers and commanders. Bus operators, food suppliers,contractors and landlords to build camps for the camp site set up. To expose young people to live independently even for 3 months at least the exposure is still there. For teenagers who are used to living away from their families is no problem, but there are still many who have never lived away from their families. This is the class that they will be exposed to the real life. However we are provide opportunities for teens to hang out and socialize in a "controlled" environment. The meaning of "control"is a big words. How far is "controlled" is control? How mixing method "under control" is meant? Mix between men and women. How does the actual situation in the camp during training sessions run? Parent will never know. We are letting young teenager to stay in a same area. Many cases happened. I still remember my friends son told me they are involved in a contract love means 3 months basis relationship only. However, is it enough time for 3 months for trainees to gain knowledge as much as possible. In other countries as examples of neighboring countries, the National Service they are 3 years old. They are taught how to use the weapon properly until they are truly familiar with these weapons. Trainees here are exposed only once to use the M16 gun. Only once every 3 months. If you're lucky may be able to feel hold M16 2 times. Sometime four months after the completion of the training program, these trainees will not be able to use these weapons.