Using Riflery Training to Overcome Social Differences
June 9, 2006
Malaysia has come up with a novel approach to encourage its next generation to live together more harmoniously: teach them to use guns.
Amid much handwringing about continuing distrust between the country's majority Malay population and its Chinese and Indian minorities, Kuala Lumpur's policy makers this week announced a proposal to help teenagers of all ethnicities bond: the government's National Service Program will now require training in the use of rapid-fire M16 assault rifles.
Launched two years ago, the National Service Program puts tens of thousands of randomly selected 18-year-olds through three months of boot camp every year with the aim of teaching them to live better together. That bunching is something that rarely happens elsewhere in Malaysia, where members of the three main ethnic groups attend different schools and live largely separate lives. One recent survey found that only a third had ever shared a meal with someone from another race. No wonder the labels flew, with the same survey finding Malays are commonly called "lazy," Chinese "greedy," and Indians "untrustworthy." . . .
Sharing rifles may give teenagers a thrill in a country where possession of an unlicensed weapon is punishable by death. But neither this, nor the other bonding activities on the National Service program -- ranging from map reading to community service -- stand much chance of bridging the gulf dividing Malaysia's ethnic groups, so long as they know they'll be treated differently once again as soon as their three months in boot camp are over.
Thanks to Rex Chadwell for sending me this link.