New rules for PKBN trainees

National 4 minutes, 5 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

TRAINEES of Program Khidmat Bakti Negara (PKBN) are not allowed to quit the three-month national service programme without an acceptable reason, based on a guidebook produced recently.

Parents and guardians of PKBN trainees now have to sign a contract with the government to ensure their children stay on throughout the 94-day programme despite the trials and tribulations they face in its early stages.

The guidebook detailed rules that govern the handing down of punishments and actions taken against bullying and fighting during the national service programme.

Delivering his remarks at the launch of the PKBN’s second official intake at the National Indoor Stadium yesterday, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) Permanent Secretary Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid Hj Mohd Jaafar said the guidebook has been printed and distributed to the new trainees.

It provided them a “detailed understanding of aspects that are strictly forbidden (and) allowed” throughout the programme.

“For example, bullying, fighting and procedures and rules that govern the handing down of punishments are among the aspects that are explained in this guidebook,” he said, adding that it was hoped to provide full assurance to the trainers, parents and guardians towards the programme.

The production of the guidebook comes on the heels of an incident in October which saw a trainee of the first official intake hospitalised after a fight broke out at the PKBN interim training camp in the Sports Village in Berakas.

Asked if the guidebook was produced in response to the incident, the permanent secretary told The Brunei Times, “It’s more than that”.

He explained that the guidebook would be used as a reference point, with PKBN itself modelled after the national service programmes of other countries.

“So I think that with the feedback that we received and (after) very careful consideration, we (have) decided to use and applied it,” he said.

“As we move along, perhaps there will be changes here and there, but a guidebook is meant to guide.”

Commenting on the October incident, Dato Hj Mohd Hamid reiterated what was mentioned in the press release issued at that time: “There was in-fighting and there were reports of particular aggressiveness in splitting the fight.”

At the time, complaints had reportedly been received of instructors using force to break up the fight between two trainees.

The instructors implicated were temporarily relieved of their duties as an immediate measure pending the investigation.

A PKBN secretariat staff shared yesterday that one of the instructors “returned to his unit”, following the incident.

“As far as the Board of Investigation is concerned, we reached a conclusion and we have taken measures to ensure there is no such repeat of that incident,” Dato Hj Mohd Hamid said.

Security measures such as security guards and CCTV placed around the camp have been introduced since then.

One of the trainees involved in the fight “chose not to continue” the training programme, while the other continued.

“But Alhamdulillah, the programme went on and the other trainees (were) not affected. They completed the programme, and as you know, it was very well done as proven during the passing out parade,” the permanent secretary added.

A new introduction to the programme for this second official intake was the signing of a contract between the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and the parents and guardians of the trainees “to ensure trainees will complete the training and not pull themselves out without an acceptable reason”.

Dato Hj Mohd Hamid said this was meant to provide “predictability”, particularly since the earliest part of the three-month programme was the “hardest” for the trainees.

“Now you have to wake up very early, congregate and pray together and (the trainees say,) ‘This is tough’. And then after that, they do their training and everything. And for them to do that every day, it will require some major adjustment,” he said in the interview.

However, he explained that trainees would not see the benefits of persevering till the end of the programme if they quit early.

“Basically, with this (agreement), we are hoping we will get the support of the parents to persevere, in particular when it’s tough on their children; when their children want an easy way out. Then we would say, ‘Don’t do that because most of the trainees, when they complete the programme, then they realise how much they (have) actually benefited.”

“That’s what we wanted to share: if they persevered, they stayed on, they will enjoy it. I think it’s proven… (based on) the feedback that we received from the ex-trainees,” he added.

In his remarks during the launch of the second official intake, the permanent secretary pointed out the government’s investment in providing the trainees with uniforms, equipment, insurance, food and drinks, and other needs throughout the programme.

“Of course, we hope this investment will produce a satisfactory result,” he said.

The Brunei Times