I have been following the news about the North Korea-Malaysia strained diplomatic relations quite closely these days. Part of me wonder, if we are to go to war (the likelihood of it is quite small for now) how prepared are we to fight?
During war, not only the army are involved, capable men (and women maybe) will also get recruited, right? That’s the basis of many countries making it compulsory for all their citizens of a certain age to do a stint of national service.
We should all do National Service like the one in Singapore. According to Wikipedia, National Service in Singapore, (commonly known as NS), is a statutory requirement for all male Singaporean citizens and second-generation permanent residents to undergo a period of compulsory service in the uniformed services. Depending on physical and medical fitness, they serve a two-year period as National Servicemen Full-time (NSFs), either in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Singapore Police Force (SPF), or the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF)
I think, in Turkey, compulsory military service applies to ALL male citizens from twenty to forty-one years of age. Those who are engaged in higher education or vocational training programs prior to their military drafting are allowed to delay service until they have completed the programs or reach a certain age.
After SPM (2002) I voluntarily joined PKSN (Program Khidmat Sosial Negara) while awaiting my SPM results. PKSN 02/03 was the last batch of PKSN ever before it was then replaced with PLKN (Program Latihan Khidmat Negara). PKSN was a non-compulsory program in each state in Malaysia and anyone who was interested could simply fill up the registration form and joined the program for free.
So because it was to be the last PKSN ever, we felt like we were a special batch. Hahaha. 😛
I was the only one of SBP/MRSM school who attended the program in the Kedah state. The rest were made up of students sekolah-sekolah biasa (tak jumpa lah budak Asma, budak Bahiyah, budak2 sekolah cluster or sekolah berprestasi tinggi…banyak budak2 dari sekolah daerah terpencil dan sekolah kampung. To them, this was the only activity available to fill up their time while awaiting for their SPM results. Unlike some of us who get to go on holidays overseas, these kids really looked forward to this program because this was about the only highlight of their post-SPM celebration)
The facilitator was surprised when I introduced myself at the start of the program and told them that I was from MRSM Langkawi.
They said “Jarang budak2 sekolah mrsm join program macam ni”.
So, I told them “Saya memang minat.” I have always loved adventurous activities ever since I was a small kid. (I was a girlscout since I was in Asma primary school. And then I got involved in Girl Guide when I was in Asma secondary school. But unfortunately Girl Guide in Asma did not organize much outdoor activities to keep my restless soul satisfied and occupied… so feeling bored to tears, I quitted Girl Guide and joined Police Cadet instead. When I got into MRSM Langkawi, I joined Fire & Rescue Cadet / Kadet Bomba. Until now, I still go on hiking trips at least fortnightly.)
I spent my time in PKSN with camping, hiking, jungle tracking and joining program anak angkat in small villages. With the program anak angkat, we had to live the way the poor people in that kampung live and helped them out with their paddy planting/ street vending / rubber tapping/ fishing etc etc. (But the bapa angkat I was assigned to was a Tok Imam in the village who owned a lot of paddy fields, and quite well off in his own rights. There was nothing much for me to do. So, I ended up not having to help out at all. Hahah. I was the only one in PKSN who did not really have to live poorly like the rest of them. But I actually envied them their experience.)
We did more social service activities than military activities in PKSN. The roughest part of PKSN was only the jungle tracking… and I happened to enjoy those, anyway.
In PKSN, I got to know people whose concerns were not academic performance, but other important things such as patriotism, helping others in need and selflessness. It was quite refreshing, actually. They didn’t talk about books, they didn’t worry about their SPM results. They didn’t talk about their answers to some confusing SPM questions that they had recently sat for. These people were a totally new breed to my usual friends who were academic-oriented.
But they are a gem in their own ways. They were good in practical, survival stuff, you know. They have patience in times of difficulties. They were creative about doing performances to entertain the orang kampung. Their social skills with the elders were crazy good. They were so… at ease….with the orang kampung. With the orang kampung, they talked of stuff I had not the slightest idea of involving ‘kerja-kerja kampung’ I was not at all familiar with. At that age, I was still an awkward teenager who only wanted to talk about the latest fiction I had read. I didn’t know how to relate to others who didn’t share my interest. I was very self-absorbed. But by observing how they interacted with one another and how they found pleasure in simple things, I learned a thing or two about contentment and finding enjoyment in everyday occurrences.
After one month of fun, community service, and BTN-like talks and programs, it was time to say good bye to all my new friends and acquaintances. I never met them again. I was not even sure whether they continued their tertiary studies. But I think, they were street smart people, anyway. Institutionalised education might be too restricting for people like them.
The year after, they abolished PKSN and started PLKN…. and they made it compulsory for the listed names.
I don’t know how military-based PLKN is.
I heard that only certain types of students were chosen to join. Brilliant students from good schools can always request for exemption.
Maybe brilliant students don’t care enough about anything else other than academic performance.
Not much difference than the cohorts in PKSN, then.
It looks like only students from kampung school will ever be interested to serve the nation.
If Malaysia ever HAVE to go to war, how prepared are we?
We should make National Service compulsory for ALL students… postpone your studies, and do your national service. If anything is to be learned from the North Korea-Malaysia diplomatic tension recently, it is that we should never be complacent about our country’s sovereignty and peace. At any time in the future, our country’s safety and freedom could be threatened.
Burying our heads in the sand and refusing to wake up and smell the coffee might prove to be one of our greatest mistake as a nation.
Just my humble two cents.