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MANY APPLICANTS: Army chief awed by change in community’s mindset
IPOH: THERE has been a significant shift in the mindset of the Chinese community towards the notion of serving in the armed forces.
And this is most evident in Perak, where 90 per cent of the 106 who volunteered for the Territorial Army yesterday were Chinese.
The positive response from the community, which in the past had viewed a career in the armed forces less favourably, was not lost on army chief Gen Tan Sri Zulkefli Zainal Abidin.
Pointing out that race had never been the criterion for recruitment or promotions, Zulkefli said he could not help but express his awe at the high number of Chinese youth joining the Territorial Army.
“The recruitment exercise today is certainly a trendsetter. The number of Chinese applicants this time is the largest in the last six years nationwide.
“In the army, we do not look at race or the colour of your skin. We don’t speak of such things. However, I can’t help but say that such a high number (of Chinese) joining the reservists is an exciting development,” Zulkefli said after meeting prospective recruits at the 2nd Brigade army camp where the recruitment exercise was carried out.
He said the number of non-Malays in the army was still low, however, with Malays dominating the regular army at 90 per cent of the strength.
For the volunteer army, non-Malays formed only 15 per cent of the total.
The regular army currently has around 100,000 men while the reservists number slightly fewer.
The army has long since planned for a ratio of 1:3 for regulars to reservists, and Zulkefli reiterated this yesterday.
"The 1:3 ratio was achieved by many developed nations long ago. We are now moving towards that ratio," he said, adding that the army had not set a specific time-frame to achieve the targeted ratio.
Among the prospective recruits who attended the selection process yesterday were college student Tan See Wei, 19, and property sales executive Kam Wai Keen, 27.
Tan, the youngest of four children, said she joined her college mates from Kolej Tunku Abdul Rahman in Kampar to apply to become an army reservist because she wanted the experience.
"None of my family members had ever joined the army. I am the first and am glad my mother did not object.
"If I am selected, I will make full use of this opportunity to strengthen my discipline and hopefully, be of good use to the country one day," said the second-year student who is pursuing a degree in information technology.
Kam said he wanted to join the Territorial Army to gain more friends and obtain new insights into the life of a soldier.
"I hope to expand my personal horizons as well as shape my body with training and exercise. I also want to learn more about the army and what soldiers do."
Kam, who is a newlywed, said his wife, Yam Meow King, 26, did not stop him from applying to become a reservist.
Earlier in the morning, Zulkefli attended a ceremony at the Perak State Secretariat where state secretary Datuk Abdul Puhat Mat Nayan was appointed the commander of the Territorial Army's 503 Regiment based in Ipoh.
Witnessed by Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir, Zulkefli pinned the colonel's rank on Puhat's epaulette.