National Service – suspend immediately

I hav written 2 posts on National Service, various letters to Malaysiakini and NST, to ask that NS be suspended and reviewed. Now that there is another death, the authority should immediately suspend the whole program and have it reviewed thoroughly. I will publish my 2 previous letters here and I think the facts are still relevant. Please act immediately before another senseless death occurs. Think of the waste of life , think of the family , think of the parents.

                         Letter one (in Malaysiakini as well as NST)

Suspend NS programme pending review
Dr Hsu Dar Ren | Mar 6, 07 4:15pm
I refer to the malaysiakini report ‘Suspend NS training’ pending probe on death. I also refer to the picture of National Service Training Council chairperson Lee Lam Thye in one of the dailies crying at the funeral of a dead trainee.My sympathy goes to the parents of all the dead trainees as well as to Lee who has spent so much time and effort to oversee the project only to be thwarted by the incompetency of some of those in charge of the implementation of the project.There are so many deaths and other mishaps that I would like to call for a total review of the National Service programme here. Our National Service was mooted as a means to integrate the youths of the different races while at the same time provide training for them to become more independent and encourage them to embrace good values.Have we achieved these objectives? Are the trainers themselves well-trained to cope with the physical and emotional problems arising from various ethnic differences? There was a report that a canteen in one of the camp was ordered to be temporarily closed because food was found to be unhygienic. Are they adequate provisions for the trainees to get clean and nutritious food and water? Is there proper supervision from a hygiene point of view?Is there a variety of food to cater for the tastes of all the trainees? Or is the food prepared mainly just for one ethnic group only? This is important because many Chinese Malaysian youth are not used to spicy food while a lot of Indians and Malays cannot go without spicy food. There are stories that some trainees have survived only on biscuits. Is this true?Is there an adequate number of friendly medical staff present to attend to any complaints of discomfort or ill health? Are the camps conditions healthy enough? Do the people running the camps know enough about hygiene and prevention of diseases?

Are the trainers or camp commandants overzealous? Or do they, on the other hand, adopt a ‘tidak apa’ attitude? Has the programme attained its objective of bringing the various ethnic groups closer together? How many of the youths of the different races still keep in touch after their discharge from the camp and how many of them go out together, watch movies together and eat together? How many of them visit each other’s home during the festive seasons?

We need a review of the NS programme at this stage. We may need to suspend the training until a thorough review is properly done


After this letter in March 2007, Tan Sri Lee, a personal friend, spoke to me and I made some suggestion regarding food and medical aspects. The camps were subsequently staffed with Medical Assistants and food quality was improved. In September 2007, I wrote another letter , after another trainee died of asthma.

                          Letter 2 (Malaysiakini)

From national service to national unity
Dr Hsu Dar Ren | Sep 12, 07 2:26pm
Recently, after the death of yet another National Service programme trainee, the deputy prime minister was quoted as saying that so far, ONLY 14 deaths have occurred among NS trainees. I find the word ‘only’ appalling. I am sure the learned and politically seasoned DPM did not and would not have uttered this word, but was merely misquoted by reporters.The word ‘only’, when used in this type of context, gives a meaning that this is only a statistic and it is not that important. This is contrary to most views -including my own – that ‘life’ is sacred. Even one life lost is one too many.I am also appalled by the news reports which said that young people like NS trainees can die of asthma. Asthma deaths can be entirely preventable especially in young people. No one should die of asthma if adequate medical facilities or treatment can be instituted early. So deaths due to asthma are unacceptable.To read the newspapers, death is just a statistic. But to the people who are family or friends of the dead, it is not merely a statistic but someone dear that is lost forever. And to lose this precious life just because someone in charge is negligent or had a ‘tidak apa’ mentality is totally unacceptable.The National Service programme is not aimed at producing soldiers. So the training should not be too vigorous, although a certain amount of fitness training is necessary. We do not expect five-star accommodation for the trainees, but at least the environment must be clean and free from disease-carrying insects such as mosquitoes and flies. Food wise, it should be properly cleaned and freshly prepared.For those who cannot tolerate hot and spicy food, an alternative must be made available. There are many stories of trainees surviving on biscuits or instant noodles because they are not used to the food provided, which is mainly of the hot and spicy type.

I would like to raise the point whether the NS programme has achieved its aim of fostering closer friendship among young people of the different ethnic groups. If it has not, then perhaps we should not continue this programme just because scrapping it would cause embarrassment to certain important people who first proposed the scheme.

I think our leaders are big and strong enough to realise that when certain schemes proposed are not working towards their objectives, then they should be reviewed or even dropped. In my opinion, the NS programme has not succeeded in fostering unity. True unity cannot be achieved by arbitrarily camping together young people of various ethnic groups.

True unity can only be achieved when every group feels that they have been fairly treated; that their culture and their way of life is respected; that there is no favouritism or discrimination against any one particular group.

One of the main hindrances to true unity in Malaysia is the presence of racially-orientated political parties. Race-based parties give rise to racial politics. Racial politics give rise to divisive policies. Divisive policies divide the people – this is as simple as one, two and three. So to unite the people, we must be farsighted and bold enough to take the first step to do away with racial politics and that means raced-based parties.

Not only that, now that we have achieved the 50th anniversary of nationhood, it is also time to do away with divisive and discriminative policies. New policies to implement affirmative actions based mainly on income instead of ethnicity should be adopted. All poor, regardless of urban or rural, regardless of colour, must be given assistance for them to enable them to have a better future. Universal values mean that the strong should help the weak, the rich should help the poor, the haves should help the have-nots.

No one can accept, after 50 years of nationhood, that it is fair for a multimillionaire to be given a discount of thousands of ringgit for buying a property or be given scholarships worth thousands of ringgit for his children just because of his ethnicity.

Only with a policy of helping the poor, regardless of race or colour, can there be a truly fair and equitable society. Only with a fair society, can true unity be achieved


19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. peisheah
    May 10, 2008 @ 13:06:21

    Abdul Hadi reiterated that the training programme will not be scrapped “just because of one or two deaths.”

    I change my mind after I saw this statement. Go ahead & push for NS to be scrapped. Inhuman.


  2. Dr Hsu
    May 10, 2008 @ 13:38:34

    Last year, DPM was quoted as saying that there were only 14 deaths. That was why I questioned him in my second latter above.

    To them, it is just a statistics. But to the family who lost their children, those were their loved ones; their flesh and blood. Even one death is a death too many.

    When the whole officialdom is adopting the tidak apa attitude, how can success be achieved? How can excellence be achieved?

    i do not know how many times I have stressed that the attitude of the people must change. The mindsets must change. There is no substitude for a good work ethic and diligence. Even you can have 20 MA in a camp, if all were tidak apa,,important diagnosis will still be missed.

    My heart is with the families of the trainees that died.


  3. monsterball
    May 10, 2008 @ 14:52:07

    This is sad.
    I am sorry for the parents.
    They deserve to get the whole truths.
    Will they get it?


  4. A true Malaysian
    May 10, 2008 @ 15:42:07

    In situation like this, I really feel miserable and helpless. We can tell them many times and write them thousand letters which make sense, and yet still no improvement at all.

    It is very hard to make them come back to their senses even we have ‘knocked’ their heads in the last 12th GE.

    They can even response with ‘saya pantang dicabar’ or ‘don’t question our rights’ or ‘this is my prerogative, I don’t need to explain.

    Still, I hope that these people can come back to their senses.


  5. pohwatchdog
    May 10, 2008 @ 21:53:38

    National Service need to be review with the current msmanagement and death of trainess. Good leaders should have the courage to review, reform and scrapped the programme.

    What objectives have been achieve through his NS? Patriotic, confidence and trustworthy? Is our school is not doing their role to educate our youth? Review of educational system and abolish of automatic promotion? Where are we going
    for our education direction?

    Is NS benefit the youngster? Is the camp condition and programmes suitable? Are the food prepare hygiene? We need courage and brave leaders not until we wait for another disaster.


  6. yh
    May 10, 2008 @ 22:38:29


    are you saying that chairman lee is to be absolved of responsibility coz his men did not do a good job?
    in any other organisation, he would have been sacked coz as the chairman he is ultimately responsible. In this case, more than 20 lifes were lost under his chairmanship. Yup, his hands are full of blood;the blood of young malaysians who were sent to their early death.
    God forbids that I sent my kids to this killer program.


  7. jeff
    May 11, 2008 @ 00:20:24

    It is so sick that whenever Malaysian youngsters die due to government failed programs, our all powerful ministers always adopt “tidak apa” altitude toward the death of other “rakyat” children, they always believe their own kids are the most valuable one in Malaysia, where the rest are just statistic, we just cannot question their authority as this will be seem as an infringement upon their “ketuanan” status and constitute “seditious” speech.


  8. monsterball
    May 11, 2008 @ 03:40:56

    Jeff..the death is a Chinese girl. Just watch……all hell goes loose….by UMNO ministers…if it is a malay girl.
    The worst of the MCA ….no balls to do the right thing…..but just a mild sympathy comment.
    I think they will plan to show their hyporitical political show……by visiting the parents…offer condolences and financial assistances. I really hope the family…will us th broomstick and sweep them off….if ever they visit their home.


  9. jeff
    May 11, 2008 @ 08:33:58


    That ‘s probably the root cause of all these unnecessary death, umnoputra always look at Malaysians based on “race” rather than human life, very typical racist mind-set. It is such a tragic for all Malaysians especially minority citizens and the country since they are in perpetuate power here.


  10. Dr Hsu
    May 11, 2008 @ 10:00:03

    yh, you are right. He should have resigned if he cannot get his ways done.

    He has apparently put in a lot of work but because of the incompetnecy of people around him and under him, everything from food to transport was in a mess. He should have taken responsibility and resigned.

    This program should be immediately suspended indefinitely.

    I still believe that what we need i s to have a nonracial policy under which no one is to be discrimninated. Only then, a true Malaysian identity and true unity can be achieved.


  11. yh
    May 11, 2008 @ 18:55:07


    i am with you on the non-racial policies. start looking at the education system. tough decisions would have to be taken but are our politicians brave enough to walk the middle path and implement whats good for the country and transcend race and politics?
    its at the schools when kids at their most impressionable age, must mix with each other to yield meaningful integration.
    NS as it is , is to feed fatcats. No wonder, one of the reasons given by the DPM to continue this program, is that there are too many parties involved!


  12. jeff
    May 12, 2008 @ 00:20:18

    Monsterball, by the way, she is another Malaysian fallen victim due to incompetent government official and failed national program, not another Chinese, it ‘s a great loss to Malaysia as the nation just loss another child.


  13. monsterball
    May 12, 2008 @ 00:56:43

    yea Jeff…calling her Malaysian is correct..but I need to talk race….to expose UMNO and PAS.
    And make sure all Malaysians understand.MCA…MIC…supports UMNO…to get Malays votes..not really care for their own races.
    Gerkan is simply….a balls carrying small hypocritical … toothless..gangster party.


  14. pohwatchdog
    May 12, 2008 @ 08:39:49

    Problem in our education system in our country existed with the introduction of automatic promotion. We should go back to basic with the role plays by schools, teachers and parents to educate our child.
    Fun is lose when it is too exam-orientated.

    Non racial approach and meritocracy should be the policy of our education system. Why divide and rule?
    Too much interests involve?


  15. Scott Thong
    May 12, 2008 @ 09:52:49

    Our no-combat-training National Service is only 46 times less murderous than the Iraq War.

    Also with two posters on NS death sentence.

    (I may be a bit off on the exact numbers though.)


  16. Trackback: Have A heart ! « Dr Hsu’s Forum
  17. Meng
    May 12, 2008 @ 11:05:23

    Indoctrinate and brain wash them to vote for BN when they come of voting age. Thats what the NS is all about. To have a reserve pool of voters. Unfortunately it will not work.

    For the clowns to dismantle the NS training would result in a backlash from the camp operators who have constructed and managed these camps, all $$$$ in mind. A total of 81 camps, 3 training batches in a year, each camp approx will earn more than a million a year. $$$

    The main problem is money making , all of you know that. But where the problem lies are in their training program which have not been properly tailored to meet its objective.

    Look at the physical training module, plenty of un necessary stuff that should not be included.
    Some are meant for trained soldiers. Building up survival “mempertingkatkan ketabahan mental bagi tujuan hidup ( survival)” , what are they talking about. The army survival training woud not be able to achieve Ketabahan mental. It is just a technique to live off the land.

    River crossing what nonsense is this..just a technique in negotiating an obstacles.

    Flying Fox or in their previous names known as Death Slide or Junam Maut meant for advance soldiers confidential training. If not properly supervised it will result in fatalities. I hope the height is not to the trained soldiers standard.

    Unarmed combat another nonsense. For these tender age of trainees the unarmed combat will result in injury to them. Army combat training are conducted in full attire with boots on. Just imagine being kicked by boots..internal injuries. More suited for trained soldiers.

    And many more.


  18. jeff
    May 13, 2008 @ 00:32:05

    Anybody here has any idea what is the statistic of NS death in Singapore or Taiwan? Do these countries also suffer high “casualty” level? Please enlighten me on this.

    Comparing actual war with NS is far-fetch , i presume it is a total different scenario, one with “live” ammunition, real enemy, booby trap and many different factors exist.


  19. Steven
    May 19, 2008 @ 09:56:37

    In a caring country, high ranking government official will suspend any failed government program temporarily until the cause of failure or death to its citizen is reviewed, studied, and corrected,remedy steps taken to ensure no more death will happen again during training, responsibility and accountability are clearly stated for wrong doer, then program only will continue, but not here in Malaysia.


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