The Malaysian government announced yesterday (24 November) that they are planning to reimplement the National Service Training Program (PLKN), but during the peak of this pandemic outbreak in the country, many are in disagreement.
Syed Saddiq took to Facebook to question the rationale behind the Ministry of Defence’s proposal, saying that the government should not be spending money on such extensive programmes, especially during a pandemic.
“According to YB Ismail Sabri, this PLKN is intended for the spirit of patriotism. But, there are some things that are not told to the public,” he said.
“Firstly, PLKN is one of the most expensive government programs. When I say expensive, the cost of spending for PLKN from 2004 has reached RM8.43 billion. This is too much for a three-month program.”
Syed Saddiq further explained that almost half the cost of running PLKN programmes goes to the rental of the campsites, with 43% of the RM8.42 billion used for camp rent alone, excluding training curriculums.
He then lists the amount of money the government had spent throughout the 12 years the programme had been running.
• 2004 – RM 608,611,160.34
• 2005 – RM 604,837.646.37
• 2006 – RM 688,242,515.94
• 2007 – RM 565,007,267.13
• 2008 – RM 643,280,274.87
• 2009 – RM 659,520,346.58
• 2010 – RM 601,266,849.82
• 2011 – RM 717,514,012.97
• 2012 – RM 691,516,980.34
• 2013 – RM 691,463,225.18
• 2014 – RM 697,205,276.73
• 2015 – RM 408,341,667.07
“Is the government insensitive to the problems that are happening today?” Syed Saddiq asked.
“Do not use the spirit of patriotism and love for the country as an excuse to divert the public’s attention from the problem of unemployment, retrenchment among young people and a total of 266 people committing suicide during the Movement Control Order (MCO).”
As Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob justified that the Public Service Department (JPA) had offered “soft landing” contracts to some 1,394 former officers, Syed Saddiq agreed that it had helped those who lost their jobs.
However, he said that the government should be more concerned about the current problems happening in the country instead of announcing expensive projects.
“If the government’s response to the economic crisis, unemployment, limited access to education due to quarantine, and companies that have gone bankrupt due to Covid-19 is to restart PLKN, then I am worried.”
“This is not the time for megaprojects and wasting millions of ringgit for a three-month program. It is time for the government to realise that the people are suffering, hungry and sick.”
“This is a problem today that needs to be answered today. There are over 745 thousand unemployed people. Is the answer PLKN (which we know is a waste?)”
“Try to be more concerned with today’s problems, not the multi-million dollar project.”