APRIL 22, 2004 THU

Najib accuses media of giving distorted
view of NS scheme

KUALA LUMPUR - Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, the minister in charge of National Service, has said excessive media reporting on the problems encountered in NS camps has given a distorted view of the programme.
'There are too many reports on every single thing that goes on and these have given a very distorted picture of the programme,' he said.
Datuk Seri Najib, who is also Defence Minister, said all claims of abuses in training camps would be investigated.
'The government tried to scrutinise the background of trainers but it has no guarantee that undesirable incidents would not occur because we don't know under what circumstances an individual can control his emotions,' he told reporters after closing a seminar for Barisan Nasional MPs.
In Alor Star, the Kedah state police and the National Service Training Council gave contradictory accounts on why 300 trainees demonstrated on the Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) campus in Sintok on Monday.
Police said it had nothing to do with the arrest of 12 trainees for an alleged break-in at a Guthrie College storeroom but council chairman Ahmad Fawzi Mohamed Basri believed otherwise.
Kubang Pasu district police chief Mohamed Aris Ramli said the students gathered that night to voice their dissatisfaction over the way they were treated by their instructors. 'They dispersed after we spoke to them,' he said.
He added that the boys were picked up on Monday evening after the university authorities lodged a police report. They were released on police bail the same day after their statements were recorded.
He said among the items taken from the storeroom were used toothbrushes, stationery and a doll. No valuable items were stolen.
The items belonged to UUM students who are now on their semester break.
Supt Mohamed Aris said the break-in occurred on Monday morning and it had been classified as theft under Section 379 of the Penal Code which carries a maximum jail sentence of seven years and a fine or both.
He said the theft was unrelated to a protest by about 300 NS trainees who gathered outside the college at 9.30pm that day.
UUM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Ahmad Fawzi Mohamed Basri, who is the NS council chairman, said the protest was held because of the arrest of the 12 trainees.
He did not discount the possibility that the trainees were dissatisfied with their instructors.
In Lumut, a camp commander walked out of a training camp, claiming he had not been paid his salary and allowances.
Lt-Col (Rtd) Mohd Razaki Darus, who left the Segari camp on Sunday, is the 11th trainer to walk out from an NS camp in Perak.
Last Saturday, 10 trainers from the Kampung Baru camp quit after making similar claims. However, two of them returned the following day after some persuasion. -- The Star/Asia News Network

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