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Najib the Defense Minister, Abdul Hadi Awang Kechil, the NS Director General, or Lee Lam Thye the Chairman, National Service Training Council cannot at this stage still defend the National Service programme, which basically treats the trainees indifferently thus causing 17 or 21 deaths. These people are morally and ethically responsible for the tragedies. They may just pretend they are not responsible, but, if they have a conscience, these deaths will long remain in their minds and will disturb them. Innocent children were killed by the negligence of the whole bunch of National Service caretakers.

Beside this letter there are another 4 more in Malaysiakini:

If this is not a public outcry, then Badawi’s assurance that he has big ears, is just blowing a trumpet for the deaf man to hear. Najib just can’t run away by saying, there are too many parties involved, a clear cut confirmation lots of commercial interests will be jeopardised. Hence, death is not painful, but money making is more important. Please decide.

I would like to thank Lee Lam Thye for his excellent letter. I would like to offer my comments and suggestions as to what I think is a very sincere piece of writing coming from a person that shows some indication of a conscience.

Unlike the letter by Abdul Hadi Awang Kechil, the NS Director-General, Lee’s letter has cleared the air on a number of very important issues that had parents like me losing sleep over worrying about our children.

Lee has made three major points in his letter. The first is that all NS camp officers must treat the trainees as their own children. This is clearly lacking in the programme as not a single trainee I met ever mentions or remembers fondly any of their instructors.

Secondly, Lee clearly makes a damning criticism of the management of the camps. Lee explains that the advisory council which he heads has no power over management which clearly shifts all responsibilities to the team headed by the NS Director-General, Abdul Hadi Awang Kechil.

Now I know who to actually blame. If, as Lee points out, there is such a standing Operating Procedure such as sending an ill trainee to a hospital if his/her condition has not improved over 24 hours, then from the news reports I have scrutinised, gross negligence has occurred.

Abdul Hadi and his team must bear responsibility. Finally, Lee has echoed my call for a public inquiry on all the deaths, an inquiry which must be transparent and made public. Thank you once again Tan Sri.

This public inquiry should have one simple objective – it is to ascertain whether the trainees who have died had complained of illness for three or more days to camp officials, friends or parents. Through an interview method, one can establish this fact quiet easily. If gross negligence has been proven, I recommend the following immediate action:

1. Abdul Hadi Awang Kechil must be dishonourably discharged as he appears to be an uncaring manager of our children. He should thank God that we parents are not thinking of prosecuting.

2. All the officers from the camps at which the trainees have died must also be removed and never allowed to step anywhere near a National Service camp ever again.

3. All the medical units at the camps which have recorded a trainees’ death must be dismantled.

4. All trainees with any form of sickness must be immediately referred to a nearby private clinic or a well-staffed government hospital. If it is possible, the government should pay for a doctor to be at all the NS camps at all times.

Finally, I wish to alert Lee that some of my colleagues whose children have gone through the NS have told me of the devastatingly poor water quality in the camps to the point that their children have suffered many diseases. These parents have resorted to sending their children huge bottles of good quality water to drink and even to bathe in.

What the devil is going on? NS officials from these camps with poor water quality should also be removed from their management posts.

Unlike many of the calls to abolish the National Service, I want it to continue but with its curriculum being reviewed and parents like me being allowed to have a say in the development of the programme.

There is an excellent article by Malaysiakini columnist Dr Azly Rahman on what the National Service should have and I recommend all to read it.

NS deaths: We know now who to blame \


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