1. Lt Col Carol Loo (Rtd) initiated the meeting request with Mr Lee Hwee Chuin, the Legal Advisor, Office of the President of TAR University College (TARC) on 20 Oct 16, regarding the Chinese Youths Recruitment (CYR) project by MACVA. This project is aimed to offer another career option to the graduates, to take up the Armed Forces Graduate Officers Cadet Scheme. The outcome of the discussion between Mr. Lee and Lt Col Carol (Rtd) has prompted TARC to call for a meeting with MACVA, on 27 Oct 16 at 11am.
2. The attendees from both sides were as follows:
a. TARC Team.
(1) Dr Chook Ka Joo – Vice President Student Affairs & Quality Assurance – Chairman.
(2) Dr Oo Pou San – Director of Continuing and Professional Education.
(3) Mr Lee Hwee Chuin - Legal Advisor, Office of the President.
(4) Ms See Gim Ling – Assistant Registrar Office of the President.
b. MACVA Team.
(1) BG Dr Leong Weng Foon (Rtd) – Protem President of MACVA.
(2) Lt Col Dato' Martin Kam Yoon Sang (Rtd) - MACVA CYR Advisor.
(3) Lt Col Carol Loo Lee Fum (Rtd) - 2IC CYR MINDEF Team.
(4) Lt Col Chua Eng Lye (Rtd) – 2IC CYR Northern Region
(5) Maj David Chow Yun Kai (Rtd) – Member of CYR.
3. The meeting was conducted in a very casual manner. TARC obviously gave the meeting importance and priority. They allocated time, place and senior officers to participate in the meeting. They made fantastic administrative arrangement to facilitate the meeting, especially car parking. Security was well organized and politely applied. Obviously all staffs involved were briefed on our presence.
4. The meeting started off cordially with Dr Chook giving his self-introduction followed by Mr Lee, Dr Oo and Ms See. All were very informal, with some story telling along the way.
5. Dr Chook, who looks into the student affairs and quality assurance, related that their TA unit is very active in the campus, as they come under the 515 TA Regiment. The last passing out parade was in Sep 2016. He related that some undergraduates in the TA unit are very keen to join the Armed Forces but not sure how to go about. Hence, the meeting with MACVA perhaps has given the undergraduates another career option in the future. He added that we must “strike the iron while it’s hot”.
6. Mr Lee looks after the legal aspects especially when the ‘stuff hits the fan’. He was the man who made the meeting possible.
7. Dr Oo recounted his postings in the Armed Forces such as AFATS and KD PELANDUK. He had served in the Education Corps for 13 years with his last posting in the Department of Navy. He is still enjoying the medical perks from the Armed Forces Hospital.
8. Then, the Protem President outlined the history of the formation of MACVA by giving its background, setting up of MACVA until its registration on 31 August 16. He mentioned that the members wanted to do something more than just gathering, and talking about old times and ‘yam seng’. We feel we can still contribute with our service experiences, and post service knowhow, skills and expertise. Over and above that, we wanted to put on record our service, contributions and sacrifices to King and Country, emphasizing that we were there, standing shoulder to shoulder with our comrades from all the other ethnic communities.
Thus, no one should question us that we, Chinese are unpatriotic and disloyal to King and Country. The Protem President also said that besides all other considerations, this wanting to contribute to the nation should be considered one of the reasons for enlisting. He gave the reasons/ events leading to the CYR Project. He also explained that we were new in this and therefore welcomes the enthusiasm and support shown by TARC, and look forward to working together to make CYR a success.
9. Lt Col Carol Loo (Rtd) gave a brief outline of recruiting and career prospects of the Graduate Cadets Officer Scheme. The new pay scale and other allowances seemed to excite the TARC Team. They were very glad that the MACVA took the initiative to approach TARC where 95% of the population is Chinese. Besides, this has also given another career option to the undergraduates especially those who are actively involved in the TA unit. Lt Col Carol Loo (Rtd) said arrangements can be made for the MINDEF Recruiting Team to give a talk on Army Career in the near future.
Dr Chook made comments that the student population is about 20,000 strong. Per year, every faculty would produce around 4,000 graduates. He added that though UTAR and TARC are of different entities, they are under the same MCA Boards of Directors. There could be another 20,000 students in UTAR, whose campus are in Kampar and Sg Long. If only one per cent of the 40,000 is to seek a career in the Army, the result would be very encouraging.
10. Lt Col Chua (Rtd) gave an overview on Leadership Skills and Training when the subject of corporate training and outdoor adventure training was brought up; TARC mentioned that they have a 50 acre fully equipped facility in Segamat for this purpose. They indicated their interest for MACVA to look into this aspect of the training. At the moment, these trainings are outsourced. They enquire on how MACVA would conduct the outdoor training. Lt Col Chua (Rtd) explained that MACVA program approach is; experiential learning. They will design the training in accordance to their learning/training objectives.
Based on the desired outcome and the KSA (knowledge, skill and attitude) of participants, we will design the learning environment (the context of the training) and the activities. The learning process will be facilitated by experienced trainers and staff. TARC appears to be very keen and will follow up with us after they have discussed with the President of the Student Affairs and Quality Assurance, whom was involved in another meeting then. Dr Chook also mentioned in passing that he will have to work on the budget as well and will contact us again on this matter.
11. Finally, Lt Col Dato’ Martin Kam (Rtd) summed up the purpose of this exploratory meeting by saying that whilst the factor of "King and Country" is still relevant today as a reason to join the Army, it is no longer the ultimate factor. The Army today with such good scheme of service must be considered an attractive “vocation” or career for our youth, especially from the Chinese community. As veterans, it is our moral obligations to encourage as many of them to participate in the Public Sectors, especially the Armed Forces and the Police Force - we do not wish to lend credence to some calling us unpatriotic or worst still, say nasty thing like 'balik Tongsan'. I think this is what we are trying to do in MACVA by giving our “credible voice”!
12. The meeting ended cordially with the exchange of gifts between the two parties followed by a group photo at the main entrance of the Admin Block.
13. TARC is very keen in our effort to recruit Chinese youths into the Army. In fact, they are also looking into motivating their Chinese graduates to join not only the Armed Force but also the Police Force. They have indicated and welcomed the CYR exercise to be conducted during their short semester break in March 2017 or the long semester break either from May to Oct or from Nov to Jan. They even proposed that the first exercise could start off with the current batch of TA undergraduates, if possible by early Dec 2016.
14. The Protem President then sought clarification on the link in relationship between TARC and UTAR. Dr Chook gave a very good clarification. Basically, they were two separate organizations but founded and supported by the same people, in another words, those connected to the MCA. He also explained that some courses run by both the organizations were similar or even the same, except for the Medical Faculty, which is conducted only in UTAR. UTAR have campuses in Kampar and Sungai Long.
15. Based on our discussions and my personal observation, it will be a win-win situation for both sides, and that a long and positive interaction and relationship is on the cards.
Report compiled by
Lt Col Carol Loo Lee Fum (Rtd)
2IC CYR MINDEF Team
30 Oct 16