Government Boot-Camp for Teens Seeks to Promote Tolerance

April 26, 2004

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle

On April 26, 2004 The San Francisco Chronicle ran an Associated Press article that reported, "Striving to shed old ethnic and cultural divisions, Malaysia is conscripting its young into a boot-camp-style national service program designed to cultivate patriotism, discipline and, especially, tolerance. But the early going has been marred by clashes among the 85,000 young men and women randomly drafted for the first class...The fight [between an ethnic Chinese student and 30 Malay teenagers] testified to the ethnic divisions that led the government to devise the nonmilitary training program, which is aimed at helping this fast-developing Southeast Asian country find a peaceful, modern and increasingly middle class identity. The first group of 85,000 was selected by computer -- out of nearly a half million 17- and 18-year-olds -- for three months of community service, patriotism classes and physical training. Officials hope the program will forge multiracial understanding by bringing teenagers from different backgrounds and cultures together in dozens of jungle camps set up across Malaysia."