Thursday, May 13, 2010

Summer Camps

My daughter, Jamie Jasmine (JJ) will be eight years old on this coming July 13th. In about 9 years from now she will be 17. And 9 years won't be a very long time. No—these days time flies. When that time comes, I can see myself biting my finger nails on a daily basis; I would be praying really hard for the computers to miss her name for the Malaysian Summer Camps, otherwise officially known as the Malaysian National Service Training Programme.

Quite frankly, I think the idea of the National Service Training is a very good one. These kids get to spend about three months mingling with each other and get to learn a thing or two about being away from the comforts of their homes. Within that three months, they get to learn a bit about hand combats, flying fox, kayaking, camping etc.; they get to learn something about nation and character buildings; and they also get to do a bit of community services, perhaps to instill the sense of serving the society.

However, since the summer camps were started at the end of 2003, we have had too many fatalities. We have had cases of drowning; apparently healthy-looking kids suddenly falling ill and die; accidents etc. They have also been reported fightings. Numerous cases of food poisoning and illnesses including outbreak of unknown fever. Not to mention female trainees getting raped.

JJ is my only child, and as much as I like the idea of the summer camps, it is very difficult for me to put my only child into a programme with so many bad things just waiting to happen. For if indeed she ends up dead or injured while she's in the camp, I doubt that I could ever forgive myself. I'm not being paranoid—these bad things have actually happened before, and knowing very well the way we do things in this country, I'm sure it will continue to happen.

But the thing about this kind of summer camps is that parents are not even given a choice. Once the children's names are selected—randomly—by the computers, they must attend the training, failing which they will be liable to a jail term. That's why I can imagine myself praying really hard for my JJ to escape detection by the computers.

Nevertheless, prayers are not always answered. Sometimes, no matter how hard one prays, one still won't get what one wants. So I guess I will just have to be prepared for the worst! If JJ's name appears in the list of selected trainees, there is still one last hope, though I doubt that it will be of much help for my JJ. She will be screened for other possible grounds for exemption, such as if she has a contagious disease or undergoing drug rehabilitation etc.

And just a couple of days ago, a not-so-smart police officer has suggested that female trainees should also undergo pregnancy tests. Just the mere possibility of that becoming a reality, however remotely so, is enough me make me lose sleep...


2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

There will come a day when the lil' bird must leave the nest,
Its first steps will clearly be a test,
Along the journey there will be knocks and bruises no less,
But eventually it WILL fly gracefully high above the rest!


Cornelius said...

Thanks, 2R1I, for your comment. You are right about the "Lil' bird must leave the nest". If my child is fated to suffer "knocks and bruises", then I guess it's something I will have to live with. Accidents happen all the time, and they happen everywhere - not just in the summer camps.

If my child wants to learn to swim, I guess the best way to do it is by getting into the pool with a swimming instructor. There is a remote chance of her drowning, but I'm willing to take the risk. But, 2R1I, if someone else tells me to let my child swim in the sea where there have been reported shark attacks, I don't know if I would still take the risk. Would you?

Our national service camps have bad records every year without fail. I don't know how many drowning cases we have under the swimming instructor's care, but I suspect not many, if any.

And in the case of the national service, our children are forced to attend.

Anonymous said...

Mummy can take leave and sign up as Volunteer in the camp. She will ward off all the sharks.

Cornelius said...

Haha! That is of course a possible solution, Anonymous friend! But alas, I have checked, no mommies and daddies allowed in the camps. We parents are totally at the mercy of those people at the camps. This is Malaysia we're talking about here!

teo said...

In that case Corny, U still have hope to stop JJ from going. How?

U have won your bet in a marathon race but yet to get to taste the reward. So, a 'made up' MC can be a replacement to the lobster. The Doc save some money, JJ save from summer camp. Win-Win Situation haha. Malaysia Boleh, Semua Pun Boleh!!

kkchai said...

Fret not, Corny ! For all you know the NS may be abolished by the time JJ grows up.

delurk said...

i remember some posts back you don't let JJ go on her kindy's field trip.

got sharks there too?

Cornelius said...


As a professional man, you sure have very strange ways to solve your problems!... hehehe

As a matter of fact, I was running with Dr Peter just this evening, and we were talking about our responsibilities as professionals! What a coincidence.

Cornelius said...


Yeah, that would be the best way to solve my problem!... hahaha!

Cornelius said...


Yes, I think it was a visit to an aquarium. The kids were to board a bus and, under the supervision of the teachers, were to travel several kilometres to the aquarium... something like that.

No, I wasn't sure if there were sharks during that outing. So JJ had to sit out. I wanted to find out if there were sharks. But after that I found out that the teachers were reliable in handling the kids. So in the subsequent visits to other places, I have given my consent for JJ to go with her friends.

Socrates29 said...

Selection to the Khidmat negara scheme is not by random selection by the computer.
I found this out from my own experience and from asking around the parents of those whose children have been selected including my son for this year's scheme.

As far as my son is concerned, his selection was actually done by his school teacher,especially the one in charge of discipline.

Now my son was not a problematic student in school,in fact he is a disciplined one except that he was caught once for having too long sideburns (his hair was not long except that the sideburns look a bit long). This went into his disciplinary records and like his other classmates who have similar brushes with the school disciplinary teacher for long hair and other minor offenses were selected for the khidmat negara scheme.

Their being selected may be due to bad luck or good luck but isn't it too much of a coincidence that their other classmates who have never been caught for any offenses in school somehow missed being selected although some of them were actually very keen to go.

Coincidentally I found out also, those who did very well in their scholastic achievements (high scorers)were never selected.When I talked to the parents whose children were selected at the reporting station,it turned out most of their children have similar bad brushes with their school disciplinary teacher. In other words or call it a coincidence,those who are not the cream of the school but problematic ones are usually selected.

From the similar experiences known of my son's school and other schools,I then realized that selection is actually done by the school through their respective disciplinary teachers or based on the students' disciplinary records.

So if the khidmat negara scheme is still around when your JJ turns 17, make sure she has a good disciplinary and scholastic record,chances are,she will not be selected or rather her discplinay teacher will leave her name out of the selection list.

Cornelius said...

Wow! Socrates29, if that is indeed true, are you implying that only the bad lots will end up at the national service camps? That is quite something, but I must say that I find it hard to believe! But if it is true at all, then it seems that there is at least a little bit of control on the part of the parents. However, the best is if they government can abolish this national service thing totally. At least that can safe some of this kids from dying.

CK said...

all those activities were already incorporated in all the uniformed body activities. y spend so much? and to mask it with the hope of achieving unity in 3mths or so after indoctrinating racism in 11 years of pre-uni education?

Cornelius said...


I think there is a slight difference between those uniformed clubs and what's contained in the education system. The nature of those clubs and associations is essentially voluntary. In the case of the National Service these kids are forced into it, i.e. there is no choice.

I suppose one can argue that the other approaches did not really work in the past because some of these kids did not get involve. So in that sense, perhaps the government deemed it necessary to apply the element of authority to force them to be involved!

Like I said, it is actually a good idea, this summer camp thing, except that I don't like the fact that there is lack of accountability on the part of the government.

They forced a group of very young children to attend a brainwashing camp. But when some of them drown due to a collapsed bridge, people started to point fingers at each other. Absolutely no one would take responsibility for the tragedy.

When there is no accountability, there is that tendency of carelessness. If the government wants to force parents to give consent to allow their kids to attend the National Service, it should assume responsibility in the event of loss of lives or injuries. Perhaps insurances etc should be taken up and in the event of accidents compensations should be awarded. Maybe then someone will be extra careful with these kids.