Najib proposes medical tests for NS trainees

BERA, May 11 — The government is considering compelling all National Service (NS) trainees to undergo a medical test before joining the programme to avoid health-related problems at the camps.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the National Service Training Department would look into the cost and method of implementation of the medical test.

“Currently, trainees are only required to show a written declaration indicating they do not have health problems. We are unable to determine the authenticity of the declaration,” he told reporters after launching the 2008 National Youth Day and Week at the Sebertak Felda yesterday.

Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai, however, said the move would incur a huge cost and involve a more complicated structure of who should pay for it.

“The question is, who is going to bear the cost? The parents? They will make a lot of noise if the cost is passed to them. We need to study it,” he told reporters after launching Sunway Medical Centre’s first outpatient satellite yesterday.

On calls for the NS programme to be terminated, Najib said the government had no plan to discontinue the programme just because of such cases as it had been properly organised for several years.

“There are among the trainees those who have been ill prior to attending the programme and the ailment worsened while at the camp,” he said.

Liow said there was no plan to set up a clinic at every NS camp as the present number of medical assistants was sufficient.

“There are two to four medical assistants at every camp which is equipped with the relevant medicines…so, this is equivalent to the ‘klinik desa’ status. The medical officers have been instructed that if there are problems, they should send the trainees to hospitals immediately,” he added. — Bernama

Full article here.

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After 16 deaths, and this is the best they can come up with? I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. I’ll resort to shaking my head.

I fail to see which part of the National Service seems like it had been “properly organised for several years“. Had it REALLY been properly organised, as Najib claims it to be, then we wouldn’t have the 16 deaths staring at us. Had it been properly organised, there wouldn’t have been a need to quarantine whole camps at a time. Had it been properly organised, there wouldn’t be cases of teenaged girls running away from camps with “uncles”. Had it been properly organised, there wouldn’t be cases of rape and molest.

Had it been properly organised, we wouldn’t be having this discussion on whether it was properly organised or not.

Medical assistants are sufficient“? Is the Health Minister serious?

Well, maybe the numbers really are sufficient. But in cases where the camps have low hygiene levels, and the food isn’t clean, and the sufficient number of medical assistants are just not conscientious, then I guess even 100 medical staff at a single camp might not be enough.

This proposal that Najib is making at this point was due four years ago when the programme initially started. He should have made it compulsory that the trainees get at least a basic check-up, and a doctor’s verification. It took him 16 deaths, and countless other near-deaths to make him see this?

Fine. Now that he sees it, it’s fine. But what’s this about who’s going to bear the cost?

If the Ministries are serious about this programme, then they should go find ways to solve these petty problems of money. I don’t want to be rash and say that the government has so much money that surely they can spare some of it for the trainees. (Although, it may be true, we don’t know.)

Aren’t there private medical companies out there who are conscientious enough to want to help? Aren’t there capable people out there who are willing to give up some of their money and time to ensure the safety of our children?

If it’s too much money for the government to tackle (in which I don’t see the reason why, but let’s just assume that they’re exceptionally low on funds), then they could privatise the programme. NOT to UMNO cronies, but to people who really care enough to want to see the children safe during National Service.

But then again, if that’s the only way about it, meaning that the government is just incapable of running this programme, then scrap it.

National Service began with noble intentions, I would like to believe. It was a chance to let 18-year-olds mix amongst themselves, regardless of race, religion, and class. But the programme is so tarnished now, it’s not worth it anymore.

Take whatever modules there are in the NS programme that aims to instill national pride and racial unity, and implement them in schools, starting from Primary schools. Stretch the modules so that they cover the entire schooling years up till Sixth Form.

I’m sure it would be more effective that way.



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