Malaysia's army only tough guys need apply

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 (Reuters) Malaysia's army, facing complaints of bullying by officers, says the men turning up at recruitment centres these days are too soft for the force, a newspaper reported today.

''Gone are the days when they used to be tough when they signed up to serve the country,'' Lieutenant-General Muhammad Effendi Mustaffa said at celebrations to mark the end of the Ramadan fasting month in the eastern state of Sarawak.

Today's recruits are better educated, but lack the physical and mental fitness for basic training, and see the army as their last resort for a job, the New Straits Times quoted Effendi, the commander of the army's first infantry division, as saying.

''Those who whine and cry to their families during the first phase of training should not sign up,'' he added. ''There should not be complaints from them or their parents.'' Last month, two recruits complained of serious abuse by their seniors and officers, with one saying he had been forced to drink weapon-cleaning fluid and another saying his arm was scarred after an officer cut it with a knife, the paper said.

The claims were being investigated, but new recruits were bound to face ragging in military camps, Effendi said, adding: ''They have to be tough because they are the country's defenders. We do not want those who hide in the event of a war.'' Reuters RN DB0924

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