Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Price of National Unity - 19 Deaths and Counting?

Due to intense racial polarisation in the country, the government has introduced the National Service Programme (NS) in 2003. The compulsory NS programme, approved by Parliament in 2003, was mooted by former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The idea was presented to the ex-premier by the current NS chief, Lee Lam Thye.

The trainees are randomly chosen from eligible youths aged 18, although the scheme covers those up to 35-years-old. Absentees are liable to be charged and could face up to six months’ jail, a maximum fine of RM3,000, or both.

Since its implementation, the number of death toll recorded was 19. The latest victim has been identified as P Prema who was placed at the Kisana Beach Resort training camp in Kelantan. Prema, from Kajang, Selangor, was confirmed dead at the hospital. Her autopsy report recorded the cause of death as drowning (by a running tap in the camp's toilet).

It is an irony that young Malaysians are made to go through the programme while politicians can afford to scoot free after making racist remarks and gestures. To end racism in Malaysia and to enhance interethnic relations at all levels, the best way forward is to end racial politics. Deracialising public policies is a step the ruling politicians are not willing to do.

By ending racial politics, we do not need to sacrifice 19 lives and counting.

What an irony! But irony is alive and kicking in Malaysia.
(Chart courtesy of

1 comment:

freethinker said...

I strongly agree one of the key issue that is suppressing our full potential is racial politics. As long as that doesn't end, really doubtful what NS could produce is a short term or long term unity.