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It was reported in today’s Sin Chew Daily that the deputy Defence Minister Datuk Mohd Johari Baharom had said that the PLKN 2.0 (National Service Training Programme) which was suspended for one year and had resumed this year would only tentatively be conducted for one year only.

He said that the National service Training Council will decide when to resume the programmed in accordance with the future estimates and allocation of the Finance Ministry.

What Johari has said is that the PLKN is likely to stop after 2016.

I support the move to suspend or even abolish PLKN . In fact, the government should also consider suspending this year’s PLKN immediately so that the money saved could be channeled to sponsor the 744 bursary students who have been deprived of the chance to study at world renowned universities as a result of the government’s converting their promised overseas scholarship to local scholarship.

According to a parliamentary answer given by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Azalina Othman last week, the government stands to save RM240 million a year by cancelling 744 scholarships for overseas studies.

In early 2015, when the Prime Minister announced the one year suspension of PLKN in his recalibrated 2015 budget, he said the move would save the government RM 400 million a year.

So with the immediate suspension of this year’s programme and the abolition of future programmes, the government will be able to have the much needed funds to continue with Public Service Department’s overuses scholarship.

The Prime Minister in announcing the 2016 recalibrated Budget early this year has committed the mistake of not continuing to suspend PLKN. Why target the nation’s bright students by cancelling their overseas scholarship when it should be the PLKN that should be targeted?

The government has done an injustice to the 744 bursary recipients when it broke the promise to send them for studies at world top universities. Bright students are the nation’s assets and they should not be the prioritized target in the government’s fund slashing exercise.

The government should therefore rectify its mistakes by,

1. Immediately suspending this year’s PLKN and with the money saved, reinstate the overseas scholarship for the 744 bursary recipients;

2. Abolishing PLKN altogether and with the money saved; continue to provide overseas scholarships to the nation’s bright students.

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