National Service for all in 2014

(NST) KUCHING: All 18-year-olds, except the sick and physically or mentally handicapped, would have to undergo National Service by 2014.

The current practice of random selection would be dropped and all youths who reach the required age and have completed their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination, will have to participate in the training programme, National Service Training Council chairman Datuk Dr Tiki Lafe said yesterday.

"Training for all (18-year-olds) was the original plan and we are moving towards that," he said after closing the training programme at Puncak Permai camp in Tondong, Bau.

A total of 369 youths from all parts of the country ended their training here yesterday.

Tiki said it was not possible to implement the original proposal now due to the shortage of resources.

"It is not just a question of financing; there is a shortage of facilities as well. Where are we to place 500,000 people if the programme is opened to all 18-year-olds?"

He said the programme faced a shortage of instructors and trainers.

"Keeping the multi-skilled trainers is a problem as they are always pinched by other employers."

Tiki said the prime minister had said he would like to have the programme for all and the National Service Training Council felt the same way.

"But that is not possible until we have taken care of all the problems we face. The total involvement depends on how fast we overcome our difficulties."

Tiki said the programme was already headed in that direction as the call-up to the programme had increased 10 per cent annually.

This year, 140,000 youths would be undergoing the training programme.

On the issue of shirkers, Tiki said proposals were before Parliament to get them to do community work instead of sending them to jail.

"We can't put all of them in prison. They could learn to become criminals instead."

Tiki said there were 10,000 shirkers.