Fuziah Salleh (PKR-Kuantan), showing a photo of injuries sustained by an NS trainee
KUALA LUMPUR, 1 July 2009: Violence at National Service camps are preventable, a Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Member of Parliament (MP) said today, even as she revealed two separate incidents of sexual assault and violence at the Chini camp.
MP for Kuantan Fuziah Salleh said an 18 year-old Chinese Malaysian woman trainee was sexually assaulted by more than 20 unidentified men on 23 June 2009.
According to Fuziah, the girl was making a call at a telephone booth in the camp grounds at night when the incident happened. The girl’s father picked her up on 24 June, lodged a police report and took her for a medical check-up on the same day.
“The doctor gave her medical leave until 29 June, but as of 30 June the camp authorities were pressuring her to return to camp,” Fuziah told a press conference in Parliament today.
Fuziah said that as of today, the father had told her over the phone that he was on his way to the camp with his daughter to plea for her to be given extended leave.
Fuziah said she received confirmation about the case from the girl’s father very late yesterday. She said she was compelled to highlight this issue, even though the camp is in the Pekan parliamentary constituency, because the girl’s father lived in Kuantan and had sought her help.
Racially tainted brawl
Fuziah also highlighted an unrelated, racially tainted brawl among nearly 100 National Service trainees at the same camp on 27 June 2009.
“While they were in the canteen, the trainers had asked the trainees to rearrange the chairs, but a misunderstanding ensued when trainees inadvertently shoved into each other, sparking a massive fight,” she explained.
According to Fuziah, there was only one trainer who tried to break up the fight and he ended up getting beaten as well.
“Because of the fight, 17 trainees were arrested by the police. While under arrest, they were handcuffed and kept in the Pekan district police lockup,” she said.
The trainees were released on 29 June and sent back to the Chini camp after meeting their parents the day before.
The damaged chairs after the fight (Pic courtesy of Fuziah Salleh)
“Every time the opposition asks questions about the National Service program in Parliament, the Defence Ministry says it has not done the research, and violence and deaths are isolated cases,” Fuziah said.
“But it is clear that these two incidents in the Chini camp could have been prevented if the program was designed and implemented better,” she said.
Asked whether she would consider moving an emergency motion on the matter, Fuziah replied, “I want to do it, but tomorrow is the last day of this parliamentary sitting, so there is no time for an emergency motion on this to be approved.”
PKR strategist and Batu MP Tian Chua said that if national unity were a key performance indicator of the National Service programme, this meant the programme had failed.
“The program should have zero defects, but instead we have seen no improvement in the situation of violence and deaths in National Service camps since the programme was introduced,” said Chua.
“The government should either scrap the program or suspend it until everything is tidied up,” he said.
PKR’s Kapar MP, S Manikavasagam, said the Defence Ministry owes an explanation to the victims’ families about why these incidents of violence happened.
As the next course of action, Fuziah said she would escalate her complaint to the National Service Training Council for action to be taken.
This is actually the result of vernacular schooling. When you separate them since young, and later try to force them to have a bond in three months, [that] is a joke. The better solution is to abolish vernacular schools and we [won’t] need NS that wastes money. That is why we need one school for all.
If vernacular schools are to be blamed, I guess the parents who send their children to vernacular schools should take the blame as well. If you want to blame the parents, I guess you have to blame the government for not enforcing the policies fairly as well. If everything in Malaysia is fair for all racial groups, why do you think vernacular schools in populated areas are always packed with students? Before we talk about one school for all, I guess 1Malaysia for all should come first.
It sounds like this has more to do with having a proper programme rather than the issue over 1Malaysia or vernacular education.