KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 2): The government has spent RM8.43 billion on the National Service Training (PLKN) programme which was started in 2004.
Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu said the bulk of the expense (43 per cent) was on rental of training camps.
"During the 14 years it was implemented, a total of 885,956 youths underwent training and of these, 356,411 former trainees joined the national service voluntary brigade which was set up to allow them to continue serving society," he said during the Ask-The-Minister session in the Dewan Rakyat today.
He was replying to a question from Wong Hon Wai (DAP-Bukit Bendera) who asked for the total amount of money spent on the programme and its outcome.
Meanwhile, Mohamad said although the Pakatan Harapan manifesto during the 14th General Election stated that the programme would be abolished, a special committee had been set up under the ministry to re-evaluate its effectiveness and the implications of closing it down before a decision is made.
Mohamad said independent studies conducted by various parties including Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in 2010 and Universiti Sains Malaysia in 2014 found that the programme resulted in a positive increase in patriotism and national integration in the participants.
"We will consider the views of people with vested interests such as parents, former trainers and the relevant bodies. The ministry is conducting a review to assess the effectiveness of the programme and the implications of abolishing it before a final decision is made," he reiterated.
However, he added, if the programme which was the brainchild of former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who was then Defence Minister was continued, several aspects had to be improved including in its maintenance and co-curricular activities.
"For instance, from the aspect of expense, if it is continued, where can we cut down. Rental of the camps, buses, why are they so high, and where do the youths go after the programme? Has it achieved its objectives?
"I am confident that if it is properly managed with a strong co-curriculum, it will be beneficial," he said. - Bernama