JUNE 29, 2003 SUN

Malaysia's national service not like Singapore's: Najib

PEKAN - Malaysia's proposed national service for secondary school leavers will be completely different from the one implemented in Singapore, according to Defence Minister Najib Tun Razak.
'This National Service programme differs from that in Singapore as we do not treat it as a military-style programme,' he said yesterday.
It was more about nation-building and also aimed at creating more patriotic and united Malaysians with noble values, he told reporters after launching a community programme in his constituency of Pahang.
His remarks followed a report in Malaysia's Berita Harian yesterday which said Malaysia's National Service programme was similar to the one in Singapore.
It made comparisons between Malaysia's National Service Training Act and Singapore's Enlistment Act.
Datuk Seri Najib said: 'The programme in Singapore is more military-like as it is compulsory for its citizens to answer national call-ups and train as army recruits and soldiers for two years.
'Therefore the training given is military training and they (recruits) are required to carry out duties like regular soldiers.'
The government would take into account all opinions before implementing national service. This was reflected in the exclusion of Clause 29 from the National Service Bill 2003 passed by the Malaysian Parliament on Wednesday.
'Negotiations are still open and we are open to any view or opinion like when we dropped clause 29,' he said.
Clause 29 provided for a penalty of not more than RM100,000 (S$46,200) or a maximum of two years imprisonment or both for those convicted of inciting the public not to join the programme.
The minister said as a rule, all secondary school leavers would be asked to join the programme with no exemptions given for those who had joined uniformed units at school.
'They have no choice, when their names come up they will have to respond.
'We will key 480,000 names into the computer and we will pick them at random.
'When their names are given by the computers, they will have to participate,' he said.
Those who refused to join up would be fined not more than RM3,000 or jailed for not more than six months or both.
Datuk Seri Najib said he would hold meetings with non-governmental organisations as well as community leaders in order to provide them with a clearer picture of the National Service programme. -- Bernama