Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Malaysia
|Publisher||Child Soldiers International|
|Publication Date||20 May 2008|
|Cite as||Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Malaysia, 20 May 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/486cb11628.html [accessed 19 June 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Population: 25.3 million (9.6 million under 18)
Government Armed Forces: 109,000
Compulsary Recruitment Age: no conscription
Voluntary Recruitment Age: 17 and a half; younger with parental consent
Voting Age: 21
Optional Protocol: not signed
Other Treaties: CRC, ILO 138, ILO 182
Although voluntary enlistment was permitted at 17 and a half , only those aged 18 and above were in practice recruited into the armed forces.
National recruitment legislation and practice
The Armed Forces Act of 1972 prohibited the voluntary enlistment of any person below the age of 17 and a half without the written consent of parents and the production of a "certified copy of an entry in the register of births or by any other evidence appearing to him to be sufficient".1 According to the government, in practice only those aged 18 and above were recruited into the armed forces.2
There were reports of bullying of recruits. In October 2007 two recruits complained of abuse by their seniors and officers. One alleged that he had been forced to drink weapons-cleaning fluid and another alleged that his arm had been cut with a knife.3
Under the National Service Training Act of 2003, all citizens of Malaysia between the ages of 16 and 35 years of age were required to be available to undergo national service training of up to 90 days. Failure to attend, either as trainees or trainers, was an offence and liable to both a fine and imprisonment. Participants were selected randomly via a government computer database system. A total of 95,000 people were chosen to participate in 2006; the figure for 2007 was expected to be 100,000.4
The stated aim of national service training was to prepare "Malaysian youths for national service under the National Service Act 1952" and to create "a nation which is patriotic and resilient and imbued with the spirit of volunteerism".5 Training consisted of "character-building", "nation-building", physical training and "community services modules". According to a presentation given by a representative of the Ministry of Defence, there were additional components consisting of cultural and religious activities, national integration and firearms training.6
The Child Act 2001 defined as children those under 18, and aimed to provide children with protection and assistance, including those who were at risk or were victims of physical and sexual abuse, neglect and abandonment, and those who had committed criminal offences. However, the law did not contain specific provisions guaranteeing the protection of children affected by armed conflict or in situations of armed violence.7
Military training and military schools
The Malaysian Military Academy (Akademi Tentara Malaysia, ATMA) was replaced by the National Defence University of Malaysia (University Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia, UPNM), which opened in mid-2007. The new university operated under the Defence Ministry and accepted both military cadets and officers and civilians. Members of the military graduating from ATMA were contracted to serve the armed forces for at least ten years after completing their studies. Graduates from the UPNM were required to serve for "a period of time", the exact length of which was unclear. Civilian graduates were required to become members of the Reserve Officers Training Unit (ROTU).8
The Royal Military College, a Ministry of Defence-supported secondary school, accepted selected boys for entry into Form 4, or children from the ages of 15 to 17. Students at the college received a secondary school education as well as military training. Graduates were not required to pursue a military career on completion of their studies.9
Malaysia's initial report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child was considered in January 2007. The Committee recommended that Malaysia ratify the Optional Protocol and that the birth registration system for non-Malaysian children born in Malaysia be improved.10
1 Armed Forces Act (1972), Article 18(3) and (4).
2 Initial report of Malaysia to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/MYS/1, 22 December 2006.
3 "Malaysia's army: Only tough guys need apply", Washington Post, 16 October 2007.
4 Presentation of Lee Soon Hoe, Director of Unit Planning and Customer Service, Ministry of Defense, Malaysia, International Workshop on Youth Values Development, 18-25 March 2007.
5 National Service Training Act, Article 2.
6 Presentation of Lee Soon Hoe, above note 4.
7 Child Act 2001 (Act 611).
10 Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of reports submitted by state parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding observations: Malaysia, UN Doc. CRC/C/MYS/CO/1, 2 February 2007.