LEPTOSPIROSIS SCARE: Operators' agreement may be extended in view of extra cost
SUNGKAI: THE current batch of National Service trainees will be exempted from undergoing water-based training modules at all camps nationwide.
The government has decided that such training will only be re-introduced once all training camps have their own man-made swimming pools.
They are to be built using cement and according to the specifications of the NS Training Department.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who announced this yesterday, said the decision was made to avoid the risk of water infections at the camps.
"The NS Training Council will meet soon and will order all camp operators to build the required pool in their camps.
"Until such time, all NS trainees are exempted from undergoing water-based training modules," he said after launching the Felda Perak Territorial Army Regiment at Felda Gunung Besout 1 here yesterday.
The suspension comes following the death of 18-year-old trainee R. Vinoth at the Terkok camp in Sungai Siput, Perak, on March 12. He is suspected of having died due to leptospirosis, which is transmitted through rat urine.
Asked when work on the pools would begin, Zahid said this would be done as soon as the NS Training Department had completed discussions with the camp operators.
"We have to understand that this involves huge investments of between RM200,000 and RM500,000.
"We must also look into the rate of return to ensure the camp operators do not suffer any losses and the NS Training Department also benefits," he said, adding that a new agreement would be signed in future which would take into account the camp operators' investment.
He said the camp operators' concessionaire agreement would most probably be extended.
More than 24,000 youths are undergoing the current batch of training at the 79 camps nationwide, of which only one -- the NS training camp in Sibu -- has its own pool.
On another matter, Zahid said the army would propose to the armed forces council to create honorary rankings for high-ranking officials within the Territorial Army Regiment in Felda settlements.
"We hope to be able to grant those eligible the honorary rankings after we obtain the consent of the king," he added.
Present at the function were Chief of Army Gen Tan Sri Zulkifli Zainal Abidin and Felda Vision Generation Alliance chairman Tan Sri Rozali Ismail.
In Mantin, NS director-general Datuk Abdul Hadi Awang Kecil said Malaysia's NS had inspired Indonesia to start its own national service.
He said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had discussed the matter with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
"Brunei also started a national service last year, using a module similar to ours."